Safe Harbour Society celebrates 10 years in Red Deer

By Kirsten Dennis
July 5, 2017 - 5:56am

Last week it was announced that $1.2 million would be invested by the province into emergency shelters across Alberta. 

The Safe Harbour Society in Red Deer will be getting about $36,000. Executive Director Kath Hoffman said the money is a huge boost.

“The money enabled us to enhance security at two of the shelters (People’s Place and the Warming Centre) and we were able to install cameras in and outside of the buildings,” said Hoffman.

The funding came at an ideal time as Safe Harbour Society celebrates ten years on July 4. Hoffman said the organization is still young so they’ve been very busy with growth and development, so the funding aids them in moving towards safer housing.

Some of the milestones Hoffman said they are celebrating include the detox centre’s tenth year and the successful Mats program. During their ten years, they also opened the inaugural “housing first” home, Harbour House.

“That was a big milestone not just for us, but for Western Alberta. We were kind of trail-blazing that model in the community and it’s been going strong ever since,” said Hoffman.

Safe Harbour Society now has four houses in the community which support approximately 35 people.

The biggest thing Hoffman said they have accomplished is enhancing the continuum of care for people who come in to the Mats program and follow through in to the detox centre and perhaps even the outreach and housing.

“We are all about relationships and we know that our connection to people is very often all they have. It’s a privilege to be there to shine our lights into some of those dark spaces of the community.”

The community has also been hugely supportive, Hoffman said, adding that both community members and past residents of Safe Harbour Housing are continuing to support the efforts.

Hoffman said some of the things that Safe Harbour Society is working on at this point include a cold weather program that would offer 24-hour shelter in the city.

“We need to solve this shelter problem and find a space for those in our community that need ‘in the meantime’ help,” she urged.

While celebrating, Hoffman said they are also looking forward to the future of Safe Harbour Society which, if all goes as planned, will include a medically-supported detox.

“We have those people that go to the hospital and the hospital takes the initial detox off and wants to free the bed, so they send them down to Safe Harbour where in the fall hopefully we are going to have nurses.”

The opiate crisis has spurred on the need for a medically-supported detox, according to Hoffman who explains that while they know they can save peoples' lives, the thought has to be what will happen to them after.

“What we need from the community so much still is for them to shine their lights into Safe Harbour. That means learning something new about us, or maybe donating socks or boots in the winter or maybe you’ve got a monetary donation to give,” she said.

The public can get involved both by sponsoring a bed or providing items as listed on Safe Harbour Society’s wish list.

For more information, visit www.safeharboursociety.org

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