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SOURCES Hosts 12th Annual Homelessness Awareness March

From October 8 to 14, 2017, communities across Metro Vancouver recognized Homelessness Action Week (HAW). Through campaigns and rallies, the initiative sought to bring public awareness and solutions to the widespread issue of homelessness. In concluding and preserving the spirit of HAW, Sources Advocacy hosted their 12th Annual Homelessness Awareness March at Sources Newton Resource Centre on Friday, October 13.

At 10:30 a.m., nearly 80 people began to gather at Sources Newton Resource Centre under the autumn sun. Attendees had the opportunity to network with others and enjoy a morning coffee provided by Coast Capital Savings. First-hand adult clothing from the community and new children’s clothing donated from Loblaw’s were offered to those in need.

After the registration period, Sources’ Advocacy, Housing & Prevention Programs Manager, Soraya VanBuskirk, welcomed the crowd, gave thanks to community partners and introduced keynote speakers: President of Sources Community Resources Society Board of Directors, Bruce Hayne; Homeless Peer Worker at Sources Housing First Program, Billy Redford; Minister of Labour and Surrey-Newton MLA, Harry Bains; and Housing First Case Manager, Susan Sellick. VanBuskirk also shared notable facts with the crowd.

“We have over 5,000 people requesting services each year,” VanBuskirk said. “Of the 3,000 individuals that our staff manage directly, over 1,200 are provided with advocacy and housing services. From 2014 to 2017, the Homeless Count showed a 49% increase in homelessness in Surrey, and the challenges in finding low-income housing continue to grow. But all of us together are working hard to get people off the streets – shelters, mats, anything. I’d like to give my appreciation to everybody that helps us with all the work that we do.”

Modeling Sources Advocacy’s hard work and dedication was Redford. “Eight-and-a-half years ago I made a mess of my life. I fell through the cracks,” Redford said. Once homeless and going in and out of recovery houses, Redford dictated the impact that Sources Advocacy had on him in his keynote speech.

“I met Susan Sellick at a recovery house. After getting clean and sober for three months, we set up appointments. I had to set goals and I had to start believing in myself. Sources Advocacy helped me with finding housing. Once I got housing, it changed my whole outlook on life.”

Redford is now a Homeless Peer Worker at Sources Housing First Program and works in other community service positions. Coming full circle, Redford now helps those who are in similar situations as he was.

For about an hour, participants detoured through the heart of Newton. The March was led by Sources Advocacy Housing First Worker, Jay Blaschuk. Cars honked and pedestrians voiced their support as participants donned signs with eye-opening and thought-provoking messages. Without a doubt, SOURCES’ 12th annual Homelessness Awareness March brought public awareness to the widespread issue of homelessness.