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Homelessness Action Week-Special Downtown Eastside Walking Tour educates, gives dignified employment, creatively uses technology

Vancouver, BC—From Monday October 8 to Sunday October 14 hundreds of people from across Metro Vancouver will find themselves walking the Downtown Eastside. They are investing two hours to learn about the neighbourhood and its history, guided by a local resident or via specially developed technology through their cell phone. 
Developed at Union Gospel Mission, for Homelessness Action Week, this project involves partnership from Mission Possible and support from the City of Vancouver and local service providers to promote education and build awareness about the area. It also offers employment to those with barriers in an empowering and dignified manner. Guides provide the tour with a trained outreach worker. 
Called “the Eastside Stride”, the walking tour takes participants through Oppenheimer, Strathcona, Gastown, Chinatown, and the Hastings Corridor. Its purpose is to show the beauty, rich history, and diverse groups that comprise the neighbourhoods while considering some of the issues that have impacted the area for a long time. This opportunity is available at no charge to participants.
“Most people are aware that Vancouver has a homelessness problem and it’s concentrated in the DTES,” says Keela Keeping, UGM spokesperson. “There are diverse opinions regarding these issues and the people that live here, but the average person may have very little real knowledge of this community, past or present. If we want sustained solutions to the major issues here, then the DTES needs to be truly embraced as a valued part of Vancouver. And that starts with getting to know the neighbourhood.” 
Vancouverites can take the tour two ways: guided, in-person or via the audio tour through their cell phone with headphones. Guided tours are pre-arranged and can be signed up for online. Audio Tours can be taken anytime during the daylight hours of HAW.  Tour points are viewed through the phone’s screen. It requires a cell phone with a data plan and works best with iPhones and Androids. To sign-up, learn more, or to access the audio tour: www.ugm.ca/haw
Homelessness Action Week kicks off Monday, October 8, with the annual Thanksgiving tradition at Union Gospel Mission where over 3,000 meals for the DTES community will be served from 10:30 to 4:00pm. One hundred and seventy turkeys will be served that day. A separate media advisory is available here: https://www.ugm.ca/media-centre/union-gospel-mission-to-serve-over-3000-meals-this-thanksgiving-kicking-off-homelessness-action-week
Eastside Stride Information at a Glance:

When: Monday, October 8 to Sunday, October 14 (During Homelessness Action Week)
Where:   All tours begin in the Union Gospel Mission lobby (can pick up map or meet guide). 
Walking tour passes through Oppenheimer, Chinatown, Gastown, Strathcona, and the Hastings Corridor.
Why:
To learn about an often misunderstood part of Vancouver 
To learn about the beauty, rich history and the diverse groups that comprise the neighbourhoods 
To considering some of the issues that have impacted the area for a long time. 
How Option #1 – guided in-person
Option #2 – guided via audio through cell phone
Cost No charge to participants (Thanks to a grant for the City of Vancouver) 
Sign-up/ www.ugm.ca/haw
More Info  
Contact [email protected]; (604) 253-3323 
Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women, and children for over 70 years. Through its 8 locations in Metro Vancouver, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken, and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To find out more, visit www.UGM.ca.
24/09/2012
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