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UGM hosts Summer Connect Event: 30 vital service providers remove barriers to housing, employment; bring hope and help

Vancouver, BC—Anyone who has ever faced paperwork through complex bureaucracy has a glimpse of what a homeless person faces when trying to access much-needed resources such as housing, ID and other critical assistance. Without transportation, literacy, good communications skills and an address, many resources available to deserving people become inaccessible.

Union Gospel Mission has partnered with over 30 service providers to help eliminate barriers that prevent individuals from moving forward in life. On Thursday, June 14, from 11am – 3pm those struggling with homelessness, poverty and addiction are invited to UGM to gain access to housing, legal assistance, employment, income assistance and more. Free haircuts, bike and wheelchair repair, pet care and food will be available as well.

The main thrust for this event is to remove barriers that keep people homeless or under-housed. UGM Senior Chaplain Bruce Curtiss illustrates.

“One 70-year old man in our shelter had been homeless for six years after his social assistance had been cut,” says Curtiss. “As someone who was formerly part of the workforce, he was eligible for the Canadian Pension Plan. He had tried to access it, but without ID or an advocate to help, got nowhere. He resigned himself to the fact that nothing more could be done, and in order to live he collected bottles and slept in shelters. It wasn’t until a case worker started talking with him that everything changed and he is now housed.” Curtiss says this man is just one of many stories where help is needed to fill the gaps.

Summer Connect is based on the Project Homeless Connect (PHC) started by San Francisco Department of Public Health in 2004 as a way to bring necessary services to those without a home. During PHC’s events, participants are able to accomplish in one day what might normally take eight months.

“For someone highly motivated and actively trying to find housing, it still takes about 6 months to a year,” explains Curtiss. “Summer Connect is trying to speed up the process, break down and remove the barriers, and provide help, hope and even free haircuts.” UGM is expecting at least 800 guests from the community to attend, an estimated eighty percent of which would be homeless or under-housed.

Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women, and children for over 70 years. Through its 9 locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, 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.

11/06/2012

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