The Brantford Downtown Outreach Team hit the streets early July. In September alone, the team was able to help 170 people.
The team consists of an outreach coordinator, concurrent disorders clinician,a peer support worker and nurse practitioner.
“Our role is to try to build a supportive relationship with an individual in the community that may be experiencing addiction, mental health or housing challenges.”Alana Bray, Outreach Coordinator
Bray adds, they are not a crisis service, however, they do try to help by connecting those in need with organizations such as St. Leonard’s Community Services.
“Sometimes we get calls where there is an individual in the community…we are a little concerned about them but it’s not an emergent or 911 situation where someone needs to come for immediate safety or needs 24 to 72 hour follow-up, so our role is to try and build a supportive relationship.”Alana Bray, Outreach Coordinator
Peer Support Worker, Ryan Luyk says the team has seen many complex needs since beginning their outreach.
“There are many great services available in the city but it is not always easy for someone who has a tremendous amount going on in their life…I can help coach individuals in terms of strategies and tools and how they can make today a better day.”Ryan Luyk, Peer Support Worker
Luyk adds, many interactions are client initiated so there is a definite willingness for people to connect with the team.
“It does take time and the last thing we want to do is jeopardize a relationship with someone who already has enough on their plate so we’re really taking our time. We’re visible. We have our backpacks on. We’re seeing people at the library, at parks, all over the downtown core.”Ryan Luyk, Peer Support Worker
The main role of the concurrent disorders clinician on the team is to connect people sooner and more efficiently with the services they may need.
“One of the things that people do not often know is that to get into longer term addictions treatment, you often have to go through an intake process and then you also have to do an assessment. That assessment then gets sent on to a long term treatment service and then that service then has their own list of things to happen.”Alana Bray, Outreach Coordinator
Bray also says, the clinician’s role allows her to be able to lower those barriers by doing that assessment, without the additional intake and connect people to additional services following.
Bray notes, the nurse practitioner on the team is key in providing those in need access to necessary medical resources.
“Even when you think about getting a health card, if you have lost your ID or had it stolen, you may need to pay a $35 fee to be able to get your birth certificate to then be able to get your health card and that is a very big deal for someone who may not have $35 but may need that health card or other ID to access the food bank or other services.”Alana Bray, Outreach Coordinator
The Outreach Team reports to the city every month with numbers on how many people they’ve aided and how to improve the project.
The program has been funded until July 2020, however the city is hoping to receive grants from upper levels of government to be able to continue offering the service past that date.