Inner City Awareness Week kicks off the third week of March, as proclaimed by Mayor Bill Smith in 1996. During this week, Right at Home Housing Society joins forces with seven other agencies, together forming the Inner City Agencies Foundation. Our goal is to raise funds to support the services we provide to those struggling in poverty. We see daily examples of the impact of services provided by like-minded agencies that serve to connect our residents to valuable resources that pave the path to a successful and comfortable lifestyle.
What does inner city awareness mean to us?
Being aware of the struggles inner city residents means acknowledging the progress we’ve made, but more importantly, the work that still needs to be done to ensure that all citizens are given equal opportunities. Each organization involved with the Inner City Agencies Foundation (ICAF) has found that the demand for their resources has not slowed over the past year.
Boyle Street Community Services recently employed an open data source, which shows that over a 30 day period in March 2018, 483 residents were seeking their housing services per day, 50% of them requiring emergency housing and 75% of them being homeless individuals. In comparison to the number of hourly visits a local Tim Horton’s receives, Boyle Street is seeing 10% more hourly visits than the popular chain restaurant.
Boyle McCauley Health Centre is also one organization that experiences a high demand for their services, providing health care for inner city residents who otherwise would not have access to healthcare. In 2017, over 100 000 requests for service were submitted for the BMHC medical and social work services.
The United Way is an ICAF partner that extends throughout Alberta, and does a vast amount of work in our community. In 2017, they provided nearly 400 000 meals to low-income students, as well as 8000 winter coats to those struggling with poverty.
The Bissell Centre also provides a wide range of resources to our inner city residents and the need for their services remains high. Every year, Bissell Centre provides free childcare for 1,400 children from families who cannot afford the going rate for daycare centres. In addition to many other services, their drop-in centre that connects our city’s homeless to other resources, as well as providing 300 daily meals is a valuable resource to our citizens.
E4C focuses their attention on four main areas: food security, shelter, community, and education. Every day, they provide meals to 6,000 children in Edmonton, along with helping those in poverty to access resources to set them up for success.
Operation Friendship Seniors Society provides many services for senior residents in the inner city, including both a drop-in meal service and housing options for those receiving low income. Operation Friendship provides approximately 250 housing units for seniors at an affordable cost, and currently has no vacancy.
These statistics give a brief snapshot of the needs in our inner city communities, and highlights the amazing work these organizations are doing to meet those needs. But we can’t do it alone.
How can you help during Inner City Awareness Week?
If you’d like to observe Inner City Awareness Week by our side, there are still some tickets available to our annual Mac & Cheese Luncheon, which goes to support all of the agencies mentioned. You can also bring awareness to your community by continuing to talk about the issues that Edmonton’s inner city continues to overcome, and by celebrating achievements that help connect resources to those who need them. Lastly, you can donate to causes like housing, education, and nutrition for our inner city residents.
Listen to 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen’s discussion with Amanda Dauvin
Ryan Jespersen interviews our Mac & Cheese keynote speaker about her struggles with homelessness. Her story is one that is powerful, meaningful, and inspirational.