The Ally Centre of Cape Breton offers a ‘band aid’ solution to homelessness with their latest project, Sleeping Rough During COVID

Back packs equipped with sleeping bags, rain gear, hats, gloves, dry socks, canned goods, can openers, utensils, fresh water, lighters, masks and sanitizer have been given to 25 community members in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM).

“A lot of people don’t see what we see,” said Christine (Chris) Porter, executive director of The Ally Centre of Cape Breton as she describes a population her organization works with daily. That population are those that are homeless in Cape Breton.

“Historically, alcohol has been the substance of choice here in Cape Breton, and with that comes the inability to work and people being brought up in poverty. Poverty leads to a lot, such as domestic violence and trauma.”

The goal of The Ally Centre of Cape Breton is to create supportive environments for Cape Bretoners living with, or at risk of blood borne pathogens – germs that cause severe disease and infection in human blood, such as HIV or Hepatitis B.  The centre’s goal is achieved through providing a wide range of programs, projects, partnerships and services that help meet the needs of the vulnerable population.

A vulnerable population is one that is at greater risk for poor health and health care access.

Sleeping Rough During COVID is one of the centre’s most recent projects to help the local homeless population.

Back packs equipped with sleeping bags, rain gear, hats, gloves, dry socks, canned goods, can openers, utensils, fresh water, lighters, masks and sanitizer have been given to 25 community members in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM).

The community members who received the back packs were identified as being absolute homeless, which means they have nowhere to live.

Equipped with essential items, the back packs increase access to basic needs and allow the vulnerable population to withstand their current situation until more suitable help becomes available.

“We feel really happy and privileged to be able to help them in this matter,” said Porter. “They are quite content and happy with their back packs.”

Although the back packs are a band aid solution to a much greater problem, they went a long way in meeting the basic needs of the vulnerable population.

“I always try to get through to the fact that there are people out there that require these (types of) services every day of their lives,” said Porter.

“I have been at The Ally Centre of Cape Breton for 22 years, and I have served some of the same people for the past 22 years.”

The Ally Centre of Cape Breton’s unwavering support for the vulnerable population will continue to reduce harm, promote health and create a more equitable and healthier Cape Breton for all.

In 2020, this program received funding through Central Cape Breton, East Cape Breton County and Northside the Lakes Community Health Boards (CHB) Wellness Funds.

Each year, Nova Scotia Health designates funds for each CHB in the province to distribute as Wellness Funds.

This Wellness Fund is for non-profit groups working to improve health in their communities and must address the health priorities identified by CHBs in their current community health plans.