News Views: Not helping

If shelter's intent is to help those in need, it must have compassion first for everyone who walks in its doors.

As the temperature dipped below freezing this week, clients of the Salvation Army homeless shelter complained that staff there kicked them outside after breakfast and refused to let them back in for much of the day.

Shelter management denied such claims, despite numerous contradictory reports, including someone involved with the Caring Place.

Among those claims were that shelter staff mistreated some clients, threatening them, and favoured others.

The challenges a worker at an emergency shelter encounters each day are without doubt complicated, dealing with people who have a multitude of issues, from addiction to mental health problems, unemployment, estrangement, poverty and hunger. Add to that the fact it’s cold outside.

They all have needs, and dealing with 50 or more clients at once is no easy task – they don’t all get along. There are thefts, and fighting, belligerent language. Sometimes police are called.

We understand that for a place like the Salvation Army shelter –which operates on grants and donations – to meet the needs of those seeking assistance, there must be rules, and someone has to enforce them.

But if the intent is to help those in need, it must have compassion first for everyone who walks in its doors, not shut them out, especially when it’s –10 C.

That’s cruel. Doing so compromises the trust between staff and clients. It perpetuates the cycle it is trying to end.

Those who are chronically homeless, those with multiple barriers, are taxing on the health care system – consuming much staff time and money.

The goal must be to get each one the help they need, for them and to free up resources for others.

The first step is getting them off the street.

So pushing them out is a step backwards, and not helpful.



–  Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News