We have provided a $13,229 Emergency Community Support Fund grant to the John Howard Society Pacific (JHS) to support their “Surrey COVID-19 Response” project. This project provides ongoing emergency support to JHS service users who experience complex needs and face multiple barriers by providing shelter supplies, care packages, and transportation tickets. This project offers crucial emotional support to JHS service users, as well as its frontline staff.
The John Howard Society is a dynamic, innovative social service organization that strives to create safe, healthy, and inclusive communities for all. JHS does this through a continuum of programs that provide assistance with housing, life-skills, education, employment, and community-based services, with the goal of helping individuals achieve greater independence and value their positive contributions to society.
“We support people impacted by the justice system and those that live with intellectual disabilities. Many of our clients are homeless and already struggled to secure shelter pre-COVID-19. The pandemic has exacerbated the barriers and challenges people face,” Liz Vick, VP of Strategy at JHS Pacific. “Through the JHS COVID-19 response project, we aim to sustain our connection to this vulnerable population by supplying essential supplies to maintain their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. By providing items such as tents, sleeping bags, harm reduction kits, care packages, and transit tickets, we can provide additional essential support to individuals at this challenging time.”
JHS aims to reduce the criminalization of poverty and add additional layers of support by ensuring that service users have access to basic necessities. By ensuring that vulnerable populations have access to a charged cell phone, they can stay connected with agencies and other support during a time when face-to-face contact is limited. Creating a sense of safety and consistency provides stability during this very confusing and threatening time for people without a home.
“Prior to COVID-19 we provided many services and outings for individuals to connect together, such as a sports day and holiday events. However, with the pandemic we have been unable to do many events or have had to make adaptations,” said Colleen Egan, Program Manager at JHS Pacific. “We then switched gears by initiating the JHS COVID-19 response project, where we could still support clients during the pandemic.”
JHS staff are dedicated to promoting wellness for vulnerable community members. However, the extended duration of the opioid epidemic, the homelessness crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic can be exhausting and tragic to engage in every day. To address their needs and provide further support to frontline employees, with the help of the Emergency Community Support Fund, JHS has contracted experienced registered counsellors to provide emotional support to their staff team.
“Providing counselling services to help our frontline workers deal with the already challenging work on top of the pandemic was very beneficial,” said Vishal Kumar, Senior Manager of Programs at JHS. Pacific. “They all had the option to use this service and many utilized it to receive the support they needed.”
This grant is made possible through the Government of Canada's $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund, which saw over $900,000 allocated to SurreyCares in its first round and now, over $575,000 in the second round.
“The homelessness crisis has unfortunately continued to worsen due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and there is a desperate need for support from organizations, like John Howard Society,” said Christine Buttkus, Executive Director of SurreyCares Community Foundation. “SurreyCares is grateful to be able to support JHS’s important work through their Surrey COVID-19 response project.”
Individuals and businesses who wish to support Surrey charities are asked to give to the Surrey Community Relief Fund. In partnership with the Surrey Now-Leader, Surrey Board of Trade, and The Saheli Foundation, the goal is to raise $500,000 to support the most vulnerable populations in Surrey.
To learn more about John Howard Society, visit their website at https://johnhowardbc.ca/pacific/.