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‘Urgent’ need for Metro Vancouver homeless count volunteers

Organizers say another 100 people are sought to help in Surrey and Burnaby
Volunteers during the 2017 homeless count in Surrey’s Whalley neighbourhood. (File photo)

Organizers of the upcoming homeless count in Metro Vancouver have issued an urgent appeal for more volunteers in the Surrey and Burnaby regions.

The 2020 Homeless Count is to take place March 3 and 4, and the team is still 100 volunteers short of its 1,200 target, according to a news release issued Wednesday morning.

The count – conducted every three years since 2002 – takes place over a 24-hour period, starting in the evening of March 3 and continuing throughout the day on March 4 (6 a.m. to midnight).

READ MORE: Volunteers needed for 2020 homeless count in Surrey, White Rock, Delta

Training sessions are set for tonight (Feb. 26) and tomorrow (Feb. 27) at Surrey City Hall (6-8 p.m. at 13450 104 Ave.), as well as from 12-2 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 29) and 6-8 p.m. Monday (March 2) at Surrey Centre Library, 10350 University Dr.

Previous experience working with people experiencing homelessness is not required – those new to the effort will be paired with experienced volunteers or outreach workers, the news release notes.

Those interested in getting involved should be compassionate and comfortable approaching strangers for one-on-one conversations; friendly, non-judgmental and have a good sense of humour; and, between 19 and 85 years of age.

Volunteers will start the count in community shelters on the evening of March 3, and continue on the streets on March 4, the release states.

The count – an initiative of the Reaching Home Interim Community Entity, Vancity Community Foundation and the Community Advisory Board – “is such an important tool for people working with individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as those in the community housing sector, and in government,” Jill Atkey, CEO of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, said in the release.

“The demographic information helps service providers tailor their programs to better meet the needs of the individuals they’re serving, and the trends we see over time are critical for policy development for all levels of government and the non-profit groups that are working to prevent and end homelessness.”

In 2017, the count identified 3,605 people experiencing homelessness in Metro Vancouver, including 46 in White Rock/Delta.

READ MORE: Homeless count more than doubles in White Rock/Delta

It’s delivered in partnership with the Indigenous Reaching Home Community Entity, the Indigenous Homelessness Steering Committee and the Council of Community Homelessness Tables.

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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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