Happy New Year and I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday season, especially in these challenging times.
We will continue to provide you with monthly updates, communicating the impact that your donations have in the community – how you are changing lives and supporting much needed programs and how this is making a difference in the lives of your friends, neighbours, colleagues and fellow community members. Please feel free to share your feedback and let me know what you’d like to hear more about.
Earlier this month, on a particularly challenging day, I posted on social media about a call I received from a single dad with two children. This young man repeatedly said “I don’t want a hand out- I just need a hand up”. He had been working all along, recently lost his job and the job he hoped to replace it with didn’t come through. He had no money for food or even a bus ticket to the foodbank. Within minutes of reaching out to our amazing agencies, Lionhearts and Kingston Community Health Centres, we got him set up with food and a food hamper right away. He was also connected to Ontario Works and an employment agency reached out. This single call and the action that came from it is a great example of how our community can rally around people when they need help the most.
Without your support, agencies couldn’t do what they do – and the work they accomplish each and every day is incredible! As the pandemic continues, the needs continue to grow, and your support is needed more than ever.
In this month’s update you can read more about how United Way is working with the City of Kingston, Public Health and agency partners through the Kingston Response Group and how United Way is bringing agencies and individuals together to tackle issues like homelessness through the Homelessness Collective Impact Committee (HCIC) – to ensure the most vulnerable members of our community are looked after through this latest wave of the pandemic and winter.
Homelessness Collective Impact Committee
The issue of homelessness is a complex one that requires different sectors of a community to come together to find local solutions – funders, healthcare, social service agencies, community organizations or groups – with the voice of people with lived experience informing and guiding strategy and decisions.
The Homelessness Collective Impact Committee (HCIC) was formed in late 2021 to design, develop and adapt a system of care to address homelessness in Kingston (and area) with a people-centric and solution-focused approach, securing insight from service-providers and people with lived experience.
In Kingston, there are at least 200 people who are not permanently housed. This number does not include the hidden homeless – people who may be living rough, couch-surfing or accessing other inadequate housing options.
Based on a recent review of the system, it appears that while the shelter system is working as best as can be expected with reduced capacity and other challenges due to the pandemic, there are gaps in supporting people who are often classified as ‘hard-to-serve’, who require specialized services.
The HCIC has been meeting regularly for the past few months, using collective wisdom to identify areas of focus. The focus is in four main areas: Discharge Planning, Advocacy & Anti-Stigma, Staff Shortages and the Warming Centre – immediate winter needs and use of the facility year-round. Coordination and support is provided through United Way KFL&A. The committee is made up of individuals from a number of sectors including government, healthcare, service providers and linkage groups.
To read more about the HCIC, the objectives and those involved, visit this webpage.
Kingston Response Group
It has been a privilege to witness a community coming together to support the most vulnerable and the people and agencies who serve them. The Kingston Response Group was set up in October 2021to bring together community service providers and partners to strengthen and mobilize resources, assist and identify needs on a daily basis. During the community outbreak, the purpose is to support programs and services aimed at protecting the health and safety of people experiencing homelessness during this pandemic.
This involves a number of players, led by Fire & Rescue, City of Kingston, this is a collaborative effort with several community partners (KFL&A Public Health, City of Kingston, AMHS-KFLA, Kingston Home Base Housing, Kingston Youth Shelter, Integrated Care Hub, Lionhearts, HARS, Street Health Centre (KCHC), Paramedics, Kingston Police, United Way KFL&A,– to name a few). Kingston’s collective response aims to keep staff and clients safe, reduce transmission of the virus, while limiting disruptions to crucial services and supports available for people experiencing homelessness.
Some examples of what has been done as a result of these community collaborations, thanks to the support of our community and donors:
All of this is possible through the collaboration at these regular (some daily/ others two-three times a week) meetings and because of the support in the community.
Each week, the Kingston Response Group provides an update to the media on the current situation and what’s being done to support individuals who are vulnerable, experiencing or at risk of being exposed to COVID-19. These updates are important to keep the public informed (through the reporting in the area) and are also an opportunity for the media to help amplify call for volunteers, donations items and anything that can be done to assist those in vulnerable situations in our community.
In the News
Wondering what your United Way has been up to in the past month? Here are some media highlights you may want to check out – again they highlight the impact each of you make in the lives of so many in our community each day – thank you!
United Way KFL&A is proud to support this project and partnership between St. Andrew’s and Ryandale, Transitional Housing. Special thanks to donors Jim and Julie Parker who gave an additional donation to accelerate the renovations of the church – amazing!
A new warming centre in Kingston, Ont. opens its doors –Thanks to all the partners working behind the scenes.
Kingston service providers work urgently to provide warming services – again a collective effort to make sure these important services are up and running.
United Way KFL&A is proud to support the Integrated Care Hub and the incredibly important work being done by staff and volunteers.
As organizations working closely with people experiencing poverty, housing precarity and homelessness, we would like to express our appreciation and support for efforts to strengthen intergovernmental collaboration to address housing affordability in Ontario, including through the provincial-municipal housing summit.
Thank you! Your support continues to change the lives of so many impacted by this pandemic. Please feel free to reach out if you would like more information or just want to chat – I can be reached at 613-929-4828 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Take care and stay safe.
You can always stay up to date by following our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and you can find videos at www.unitedwaykfla.ca/videos/. Watch for regular updates on our website at www.unitedwaykfla.ca