With addiction becoming increasingly visible in communities, groups in Swan River knew they needed to do something…. ‘quickly!” The growing poverty and addiction in the town were further heightened by the COVID- 19 pandemic when many organizations and businesses closed their doors to the public following provincial protocols.
This potentially denied essential needed services and contacts to the town’s most vulnerable residents. Businesses were impacted and concerned. Community organizations and worried students could see and feel the growing issue on the town’s streets daily.
Feeling that time had run out to act, Swan Valley Inter-agency, in partnership with Red Road Compass, Community Mobilization, Community Mental Health Association and Prairie Mountain Health My Health Team, came together to offer ‘Meet off Main nights.’
With so many pressing issues - addiction, mental health, trauma, poverty, homelessness and crime, there were no easy solutions. Meet off Main aimed to provide a safe, welcoming space for people to use the washroom, have a drink of water/coffee/tea and a warm meal while meeting valuable local service providers.
With regular friendly faces provided by local addiction supports, social work supports, nurses, volunteers and community connectors, Meet off Main ultimately strived to connect those in need with those who can help.
After one year of providing space, hospitality, respect and services, those who use the program are incredibly grateful and appreciative. Those who use the space look forward to the warmth of the area and meal and those who greet and interact with them.
“I still can’t believe you guys do this; it’s so amazing. People need it so much,” one appreciative guest shared.
After one year, organizers realized what was suspected— it was not enough.
Thankfully, because of ongoing community and organizational support, Meet off Main is looking to expand the number of days open and the services offered. Many exciting changes are on the way.
This Thanksgiving, while reflecting on all the good things throughout the year despite our challenges, remember that the work that gets done, the donations that get dropped off, and the people that show up to help are invaluable and appreciated.
Meet off Main Highlights
- Over 1500 visits by over 100 unique guests.
- A dynamic service model that offers PROVIDERS at the site after regular hours.
- Incredible support from community members, businesses and faith groups integral to the program.
- Donations and volunteers ALWAYS WELCOME!
For more information about Meet off Main, contact the Swan Valley CMHA Branch (204-734-2734) or the Swan Valley My Health Team at the Swan Valley Primary Care Centre (204-734-6600).