Nine years ago, the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness, of which EFry was and is a part, created the first-ever Homelessness Action Week. Its purpose was twofold: first, to raise public awareness of the realities of homelessness in our communities and second, to do something about it.
Awareness is built through media coverage, both traditional and social. It’s built by bringing community organizations together to host events that benefit those impacted by homelessness. And it’s built by conversations, from people passing by events and wondering what’s going on, to blog posts like this one.
The true “action” happens every day, on the front lines of organizations like EFry who support people struggling with homelessness. At EFry, we see an ever-growing number of homeless women and families coming to our shelters and drop-in centres. We have also seen an alarming spike in homelessness among seniors. We know that for women in particular, homeless count numbers can be deceiving. Even as counts show the proportion of homeless women is on the rise, the truth is far more dire because counts only register what we call street homelessness, when the sad truth is there are many more hidden homeless, women and children without a place to call their own who are couch surfing, sometimes putting themselves in dangerous situations to put a roof over their heads.
We are pleased to be part of a collaborative group of community organizations who are taking part in events in Surrey, Abbotsford and New Westminster this week. At each, homeless individuals can access information on supports and services; food; donations of clothing, personal care items and household goods; hair and foot care, and consultations with nurses, dental hygienists.