Pathways Information Centre, a feature at Main and Hastings for 9 years, closes March 30th. Ministry of Social Development funding has been withdrawn and committed to a new provincial ‘Service Delivery Model’ for employment services. Pathways is one of several specialized services in the DTES that are closing. Tradeworks Training Society, the project sponsor, and other agencies in the DTES are concerned that many people will now ‘fall through the cracks’ – with increased wasteful demands on police, healthcare, and justice systems.
“Pathways was intentionally located at the hub of the community as a convenient place for people to access information and for people to be referred to community resources suitable to their needs,” said Ross Gentleman, Executive Director, Tradeworks Training Society. “We referred people to a variety of services – related to housing, employment, health, substance abuse, mental health, and more. It was not only an employment resource centre, because the neighbourhood needed more.”
“The neighbourhood has a high concentration of people who are poor, disabled and in transition. They need more support than a conventional employment centre offers.”
A new WorkBC Employment Service Centre is to open Monday April 2nd on West Hastings Street. Mr. Gentleman noted that the new contractor was also concerned that the demands of local residents may exceed the capacity of the new centre.
Pathways was created 10 years ago to make it easier for people to find the services and agencies that they needed. It was a low-barrier access point and enrolled @3000 new people each year. Approximately 250 people visited the centre daily, over 60% of these members were homeless. For many employment may be a goal only after other issues are addressed.
“The neighbourhood is a place to which people retreat when they are in distress; often it is the result of a workplace injury, job loss, family breakdown, or something similar. The population is only 15,000, yet we see almost 3000 new people each year. That is a reflection of the need down here.”
“We know we have helped many people take control of their lives by treating them respectfully, connecting them to the community, and helping them navigate bureaucracies. We are proud of our contribution to the DTES over the last 9 years.”
400 people attended the event March 30th to celebrate Pathways’ contribution to the community.