The Port Alberni Shelter Society (PASS) is now collecting donations of bottles and cans. All proceeds will go to funding programs helping marginalized individuals build a solid foundation in our community. PASS is a non-profit organization that strives for a community where everyone has a safe home and a fulfilling life in the community. The Shelter Society acts as a gateway to stable housing and integrated support services and is always in need of financial support. If you'd like to help, our organization will be accepting bottle and can donations at the Return-It Depot located at 3680 4th Avenue, open 9-5pm daily except for Sundays. Or you can call the Shelter at 250-723-6511 and we will arrange pickup of your donation.
by Lauren Collins - Parksville Qualicum Beach News
posted Sep 20, 2017 at 4:30 PM— updated Sep 20, 2017 at 5:01 PM
After a public health emergency was issued late last year, an Island Health medical health officer says organizations and the province now need to look at more routine health services.
Paul Hasselback, a medical health officer with Vancouver Island Health Authority, said when the opioid crisis first came to light, health officials and the public didn't know enough when starting out. Hasselback said he's still not sure what a longer-term solution would look like or how it would be facilitated. "How do we facilitate this so that not just big cities benefit from it?" Hasselback said. "And yes, maybe that means some sort of service in Parksville Qualicum Beach. We could be looking at more remote sites that are much smaller, but we also need to think about how do we provide the service?"
The City of Parksville has experienced an increase in drug use and transient/homeless encampments, according to a report from chief administrative officer Debbie Comis. Her report included an option to request Island Health provide a needle sweep and disposal service and for the mayor to write to the health authority to request funding for an overdose prevention site within the city.
Parksville city council instead voted to continue to monitor the transient and drug use situation in the municipality for the next six months.
In the area comprising School District 69 (Qualicum), there were 13 fatalities suspected to be due to opioid overdoses in an 18-month period from Jan. 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.
Hasselback said of the nine overdose prevention sites currently located on the Island, eight have served 42,000 individuals since the first location opened in December, 2016.
The ninth location opened in Duncan on Sept. 12.
Hasselback said each site has been fairly well-used, but there is variability between sites. In Nanaimo, he said, they're averaging about 225 visits per week in the last month and Port Alberni is in the 150-200 range.
In Courtenay and Campbell River, Hasselback said, they are in the 10-20 visits per week range, but the two locations have shorter hours than Nanaimo and Port Alberni.
Asked whether or not the overdose prevention sites are helping to save lives, Hasselback said about one in 100 individuals that come to the sites has an overdose that requires intervention. He said that number is pretty consistent for all the sites.
"One could say that's the number of lives we save… I usually put it more that one per cent has an overdose that needs to be intervened upon," Hasselback said.
He added that overdose prevention sites are an important function for people who are currently using, and it's part of the cycle of the dependency, or addiction, disorder.
"I think there's a misconception out there that people who are currently using, it's a choice the next time they're going to take a drug — it really isn't," Hasselback said. "That's why it's called an addiction or dependency disorder. We need to meet them where they currently are, not where we would like them to be.
"In order for us to provide support treatment, we need to begin someplace and we need to have a way of developing a trusting relationship. We need to be able to have a location where people can come where they're not being judged."
He said the sites aren't just about preventing overdoses, but are also places people can engage and establish relationships with care providers where they have enough trust to then begin looking at other intervention services the users may benefit from.
"They have really good success stories about how they have taken an individual from needing a sort of protection of the service to a situation where they're under appropriate treatment," said Hasselback, adding they do have a bit of information of the use of prescriptions.
Hasselback did admit that probably not enough information on the subject has been collected, but he said there should be better information collected in the near future as VIHA sees how much success and utilization of treatment is actually in place. "I think this is all part of the response and showing us that we're needing to do this and that it's making a difference."
From BC Local News Website
Port Alberni is B.C.’s low-income capital, One-fifth of the population living in low-income status, according to 2016 census
A report from Statistics Canada shows the city of Port Alberni with the highest proportion of low income people in B.C. One-fifth of the population is living in low-income status.
The city is also among B.C.’s lowest income increases, according to the 2016 census, with the median income dropping over a 10-year period.
The median total income of households in Port Alberni in 2015 was $50,823, a change of -1.4% from $51,560 in 2005. Only Quesnel saw a bigger drop in incomes B.C. wide, at -7.7%.
In 2015, 23.5% of the people living in the city of Port Alberni lived in low income. This is an increase from 2005, where 20.8% of the persons in Port Alberni lived in low income. This is also higher than the British Columbia average, which sits at 15.5%, and the Canadian average, at 14.2%.
Port Alberni Shelter Society executive director Wes Hewitt said that these statistics were not surprising to him, based on the work that he does in the community.
“We can see it in our demand for housing and shelter,” he said. “We’ve got a housing crisis in the community based on affordability.”
With a high cost of living and a low income rate, people are often left unable to afford basic necessities such as food or shelter, he added. But Hewitt said it is not just a Port Alberni problem. “That’s what we’re seeing on the Island as a whole,” he said.
Port Alberni mayor Mike Ruttan agreed that the statistics were not entirely surprising.
“It’s verification for what we already know about our community,” said Ruttan. He acknowledged that many people in Port Alberni are living in poverty, and with this comes a lot of problems.
“Housing is a major problem for us,” he said. “And as the cost of housing rises, it’s going to become increasingly so.” He said that over the past two years, the city of Port Alberni has been working to increase the number of economic opportunities and increase the number of well-paying jobs in the city. “There are a lot of changes coming, but these changes don’t come overnight,” he added.
But the statistics in Port Alberni aren’t all doom-and-gloom. “We obviously have a concern in almost every area with the exception of one,” said Ruttan. “Seniors have a higher average income here than elsewhere in B.C. If you’re a senior and you’re needing support, the place to consider living is Port Alberni.” The low-income rate in the city of Port Alberni in 2015 for persons under 18 years of age was 33.5% compared to 23.2% for persons aged 18-64, and 15.8% for persons 65 and over in 2015.
Persons living in lone-parent families had a higher rate of low income, at 47.0%, while those living in couple families without children had a lower rate of low income, at 9.2%. Numbers look slightly better if you include the census agglomeration area, which includes Beaver Creek, Cherry Creek and Sproat Lake, with 20.3% of people living in low income and a $55,131 median income.
Alberni Valley Times article link
by Denise Titian of Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper, August 30, 2017
Port Alberni — What is addiction? According to Psychology Today, addiction is a condition caused by a person ingesting a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engaging in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable - but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health.
People commonly turn to addictions in times of stress. Unless the cause of the stress is addressed, the person is compelled to stay in addiction or move on to another, equally destructive addiction.
Wes Hewitt, administrator of the Port Alberni Shelter Society, says treating addictions is complex and there is no one solution that works for everyone. “Addicts have to want to quit, they have to want that change in order to be successful in beating addiction,” he said, adding that interventions might work for a very few, but without the desire to quit, it isn’t likely to work.
“Nobody wakes up and says today I am going to be an addict; but what they do say sometimes is, today I want to get help – and that is what the Island Health team is there to do, to help,” said Hewitt.
Port Alberni Shelter Society (PASS), in partnership with Vancouver Island Health Authority maintains an Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) at 3699 Third Avenue. It is a harm reduction site. Besides providing medically trained people to assist anyone that overdoses, the OPS also provides clean drug-use supplies, condoms and naloxone kits. “We hope that all users will have kits and, because they tend to isolate themselves when using, we hope friends and families have kits as well,” said Hewitt.
Injection drug users, for example, not only expose themselves to HIV when using dirty needles, but also, more commonly staph infections. “Boils and abscesses are common among IV drug users,” said Hewitt. By providing clean supplies it is hoped that the chances of spreading disease or infection are reduced, taking some burden off of the health care system. The OPS is also a place for people struggling with addiction to connect with resources.
The OPS provides a private room for safe injection and also a semi private area for those who prefer to smoke their drugs. Hewitt says addicts prefer to use in private so they probably wouldn’t want to leave the comfort of their home to when using. People who use alone don’t have anyone to help them if they overdose.
The Port Alberni OPS offers things like free Wi-Fi and donated food along with health information, naloxone kits, training and referrals to health care professionals for those wanting rehabilitation. They hope to offer more in order to draw people in to the site.
In addition to the OPS, the Port Alberni Shelter Society has also opened The Sobering Centre, located 3628 Fifth Avenue. “It is not only for those drinking alcohol, but it is a safe place for individuals to sleep,” Hewitt said. “In the past, if police found you intoxicated in the street they would take you to the hospital or put you in cells; having a Sobering Centre prevents this from happening,” he explained.
Agencies in the community are beginning to make use of the two-bed Sobering Center. “The hospital may send you to the Sobering Centre if you’re medically fine; the RCMP and ambulance attendants may also do this, or people may just walk in,” said Hewitt.
There are two beds at the Sobering Centre but they can make more room if necessary. People may stay up to 23 hours. They get a meal and they can wash their clothes. There are extra clothes if they need it. “It’s about making a connection,” said Hewitt. If they want to quit addictions, we will connect them with a nurse who will work with them on what they need for support.
“Detox can be a different thing or different places; it can be done from home with support or it can happen in a centre or out of town. We try to tailor it to the individual,” said Hewitt.
He pointed out that finding immediate help in the emergency room or even at the doctor’s office can be difficult for a number of reasons. Emergency room doctors are focussed on dealing with in-the-moment health emergencies. And when it comes to family doctors, not every doctor can provide suboxone therapy, which is an opiate replacement therapy.
Physicians must take special training in order to provide it. Of the few suboxone therapy-trained doctors, each can only take so many patients.
Hewitt says there was a time when Port Alberni only had one suboxone-trained physician but now there are more and the number is increasing steadily.
If anyone wants Naloxone kits, even if they’re from out of town, they may go to the OPS when it’s open or they may visit the Sobering Centre anytime. The training time is about 15 minutes and you take away a free Naloxone kit.
“It’s a Band-Aid that helps until we can find a way to deal with addiction,” said Hewitt. He went on to say that he would like to see people address the stigma of drug addiction. “What brought that person to this point in life? People don’t know the power of addiction,” he stated.
“There are people with strong family values that end up on the streets, selling themselves,” said Hewitt. “If we stop to talk to them we learn that the image we see does not reflect the person inside; that person is a lot nicer,” he added.
Dr. Shayne Longman is one of those specially-trained Suboxone therapy physicians and he holds a health clinic at the Bread of Life every Friday. He works with marginalized community members, who, by the nature of addiction, have proven to be unreliable when it comes to keeping medical appointments.
Dr. Longman’s weekly clinics are an important resource for those that wouldn’t otherwise see a doctor in a town that has a shortage of family physicians.
Resource agencies in the Alberni Valley meet monthly to talk about how best to help the people. The Health Outreach team is mobile, setting up all around town. Port Alberni Friendship Center, located at 3555 Fourth Ave., has an addictions and mental health counsellor. Other community resources include the NTC Nursing staff, the NTC Teechuktl team who all work together to help the people.
The Nuu-chah-nulth Teechuktl Mental Health provides counselling, traditional healing, and other services that support the mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of Nuu-chah-nulth individuals, families and communities. According to Ruby Ambrose NTC Teechuktl Southern Region Coordinator, the Teechuktl/Quuasa team has developed a great support service for the Nuu-chah-nulth communities and urban centers. There are outreach wellness workers, clinical counsellors and cultural workers who provide support and referral services to clients.
“A majority of our staff have Naloxone training and we have kits on site,” said Ambrose. Besides individual counselling and support groups, the Teechuktl staff also provides cultural healing support like brushings and cleansings.
“If someone would like to access a service provider they may contact a regional coordinator to access our list or get support with finding a counsellor or setting up an appointment.” said Ambrose. The NTC Teechuktl (Mental Health) offices are located at 3483 Third Ave. in Port Alberni.
Teechuktl staff work with individuals, families, communities, First Nations, and external organizations to support the mental and emotional health of all Nuu-chah-nulth. Their services include individual and family counselling, traditional healing gatherings, prevention education, and help in accessing crisis counselling.
Some examples of issues we can help with include: residential school impacts, alcohol/drug issues, family violence, grief and loss, suicide prevention/awareness
For more information call 1-888-624-3939. The Overdose Prevention Site operates seven days a weeks from 8a.m. to 4p.m. Naloxone kits and training are available.
The Port Alberni Sobering Site operates 24/7. Naloxone kits and training are available.
Your Member of Parliament, our Gord Johns, helping out with affordable housing and health issues, visiting us here at the Port Alberni Outreach Centre. Want to get involved in community discussions on the overdose crisis, affordable housing or other pertinent health issues? Reach out to:
Thank you Gord for your hard work in our Community... John Douglas, Port Alberni Shelter Society Special Operations
Pictured from Left to right: John Douglas, Gord Johns, Pat Kermeen, worker Rory and executive director Wes Hewitt
Metro Vancouver homeless numbers jump 30% since 2014. The same situation is occurring throughout BC and Port Alberni is no exception. Everyone is hard pressed to find affordable housing within their income levels. Contributing factors to homelessness include low income earning potentials (i.e. lack of high paying jobs and lack of jobs), low income assistance rates, lack of affordable housing, and Port Alberni's lower housing prices where already scarce rental stock is bought by new comers to the valley.
See Vancouver Sun article written by GLEN SCHAEFER
Metro-Vancouver Homeless Numbers Jump
(Sept 7, 8, 9, & 10)
Are you headed to the Fall Fair this weekend? Well then why not help Port Alberni citizens in need by filling your tummy with some tasty chili or a piping hot Bratwurst on a bun. That’s right the Port Alberni Shelter Society will be hosting their Annual Chili & Bratwurst Sale in the Food Booths at the Fall Fair. The Chili Booth will be serving up savor snacks Thurs. from 5-11pm, Fri. 3-11pm, Sat. noon-11pm and Sun. 11am-4pm. So come out for the Fair, fill your tummy and help us fundraise for those in need! Thanks Port Alberni! You are Awesome!
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News & Events
These events are compiled by PASS Staff to inform people of Shelter Events and News