Slow economy puts pressure on services


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April 21, 2015 8:15 AM

With the economic slowdown resulting from lower oil prices, different local services have been seeing an influx in activity. The Lloydminster Men’s Shelter, as well as the Salvation Army Food Bank, are two such services that have been seeing new faces and experiencing a higher demand for their services.

Heather Gray, an outreach worker with the Lloydminster Men’s Shelter, said they had a time-limit policy of 21 days but have found ways to extend the limit to accommodate the recent demand for help.

“We have had a time limit, but we know right now that’s not realistic,” said Gray. “Through the case planning process we can extend the length of stay and people can apply for an extension to stay as long as we know they are actively working on their case plan.”

She says with case plans they can try and help people work through employment issues, find other supports they may be suited for and work to get them to the next step. But many of the people who come through have what she calls “barriers” that stand between them and employment.

These “barriers” might be medical, mental health or addiction related and they make it hard for individuals to find sources of income. Gray said these people are being forced to stay at the shelter and what needs to be done is to find an alternate source of housing.

“Our shelter is supposed to be for temporary housing and we need to find more permanent housing for persons with barriers,” she said. “They don’t fit the mandate for the Libbie Young Centre or they don’t fit the mandate for the Bea Fisher Centre, so where do they go?”

The shelter sometimes keeps a daily bed count and at any given time there might be 50 people going through in a month. In recent months, however, Gray said the number is often around 70, which is a significant increase.

Gray said the shelter has been dealing with the influx one day at a time and still keep an open door policy. Anyone who needs help can go to the Men’s Shelter and they’ll help them work through the issue as best they can.

See “Services,” Page 9

The Salvation Army Food Bank has seen an boost in people coming for help, since January in particular, and Shannon Weinberger, community services worker with the food bank, said they are a lot more busy compared to this time last year.

“We just keep on going, business as usual,” Weinberger said. “We’re in an appointment system so we’ve added extra appointments. We’ll have some different times to help make sure we can help everybody in a timely manner.”

The food bank aren’t yet having trouble keeping up with the demand but Weinberger said they are going through food a lot faster and are starting get low. They are welcoming donations and she said they would love to see anyone looking to volunteer and help out.

“And if anybody is in need of some support with food, they’re totally welcome to give us a call to book an appointment.”

The Salvation Army Food Bank can be reached at 780-875-9166 and the Lloydminster Men’s Shelter at 306-825-3977.

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