Council approves additional funding for the downtown community support team

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“They are there to help support the vulnerable population who live in the city center in the hope of getting them into real homes, getting them jobs, getting them to a point where they are able to participate. actively to society. ”

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What started as a pilot project to support vulnerable people who have made downtown Regina their home will continue through 2022 with a one-time grant of $ 200,000 approved by city council on Thursday.

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The Community Support Program was launched in May 2020 by the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID) and has led to the creation of the Community Support Team, now made up of four strong members trained in mental health fields. , de-escalation, trauma and culture. – wise practices, suicide intervention / prevention and harm reduction.

Operational since June 2021, the team organizes daily “walking tours” throughout the year in the city center and offers support to people struggling with issues such as mental health, addictions and homelessness. They also answer calls from downtown businesses and residents who may have a concern or complaint about a disruptive or distressed person.

“For so long it has always been ‘just call 9-1-1’ and as we all know it just clogs the system… and… takes resources away from more urgent needs elsewhere,” said RDBID Executive Director Judith Veresuk at a press conference. special meeting of the city council Thursday.

She said the team is an effective ‘in-between’, providing the right resources to those in need without unnecessarily involving the police when sometimes all a person needs is a bottle of water or a nutritious meal. .

Judith Veresuk, Executive Director of the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District.
Judith Veresuk, Executive Director of the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District. Photo by BRANDON DUR /Regina Chief Position

“They are there to help support the vulnerable population that live in the inner city in the hope of getting them into real homes, getting them to work, getting them to a point where they can actively participate in society and at the same time… minimize the negative impact on the public domain of the city center.

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The new funding will cover four to six team members, including training, supplies, uniforms and other program costs from May 2022 to May 2023, when Veresuk said there was hope. to integrate the program into a similar but broader program. program underway at the City of Regina.

After a walkabout with the team as well as Police Chief Evan Bray, Mayor Sandra Masters said it was clear the money spent on the program was making a difference. She said Bray had reported, anecdotally, few “junk” calls downtown since the team was up and running.

According to Veresuk, the team had more than 800 hours of presence on the streets. Fifty-one percent of team interactions were awareness-based (mental health, wellness checks, food / water, shelter, first aid), 16 percent were education-based (tourist information, itineraries , public transport) and 85 percent of the total interactions were rated as low severity.

In addition to these interactions, team members also pick up used needles, perform checks with RDBID members which involve discussions with businesses about downtown safety, security and well-being issues. and more.

“CSP aims to connect and engage with everyone who accesses downtown Regina,” the program’s mission statement reads. “We aspire to fill gaps in services and improve safety for all who live, work and access downtown through street awareness and community collaboration. “

More information about the program and the community support team is available at reginadowntown.ca.

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