A Message From H.A.T.S
Update as May 13, 2020
A message from Hope and Area Transition Society:
March 16 was the beginning of a global pandemic, COVID-19. At which time from every corner of the world, protocols, practices, closures, and lockdowns became our way of being. As Hope and Area Transition Society navigated this uncharted territory, we assessed and developed procedures to ensure the well-being of our staff and clients, all-the-while ensuring that service delivery was continued. It now appears that the curve has been flattened and beginning May 19 the restrictions that have been placed upon us will begin to lighten up.
As an agency we developed plans for staff and client safety, for all 3 locations. It has now been just over 2 months since these plans were executed. We will begin phasing in new protocols for opening and meeting with clients in the office, how we will conduct groups and other activities that involve our youth. As we ease into these new practices and embarking on our “new normal”, we will continue to monitor official updates and follow the guidance of Fraser Health and our provincial and federal health authorities.
Although cases of COVID-19 are on the decline in BC, the message continues to be social distancing, good hygiene and staying home when not well. We are optimistic that we can resume a somewhat “normal” lifestyle. This “new normal”, will look like this for accessing services at our Main Office:
- Clients can begin seeing their worker face-to-face, following pre-screening symptom questions, and washing their hands. If clients exhibit any type of symptoms, the appointment will be rescheduled and/or done virtually
- If clients are comfortable wearing a mask a disposable mask will be offered
- If clients are comfortable meeting outdoors this will be considered an option
- Only one person will be allowed in the foyer – safe distancing markers will identify the appropriate distancing, no client chairs will be in the foyer
- No food or drinks will be handed out
- There will not be any drop-ins available
- In office washrooms will be closed to the public, the port-a-pottie and hand sanitizer station is outside for client use
- The office will be closed when the receptionist is not in – signage will identify when the office will reopen and procedure for accessing harm reduction supplies
As per BC’s recommended group gathering limit, we will continue to monitor how we will deliver groups and consider the Summer Outdoor Activities guidelines which will be released in the coming weeks.
Phone sessions with clients and virtual meetings will continue to be an option and we will be encouraging “open spaces and few faces” as our motto for outdoor activities.
We will continue to work with our community partners to offer assistance to those individuals and families who may need groceries delivered. Presence in the community of Boston Bar has been enhanced to twice a week to help support families who have been impacted.
We will continue to work with the BC Housing, Fraser Health Authority and First Nation Health Authority on the Isolation Centre for our vulnerable unsheltered population. Our unsheltered people are at greatest risk of contracting and spreading this virus. Therefore, we have put in the following measures to minimize the risk for our unsheltered population:
- Additional rooms at a local motel to “thin out” the Emergency Shelter
- Increased staff at the 2 locations and an additional Homeless Outreach Worker
- Increased community wellness checks extending to Agassiz/Harrison and Boston Bar
- Weekly bagged lunches to camps
- Daily monitoring of shelter clients to determine symptoms
- Pre-screening measures of new clients to the shelter – limiting access to unknown individuals who are from out of town
- Shower and washroom facilities available to those who are still living in camps and rough in the community
Access to the Transition House for women and children fleeing domestic violence remains open with the following protocols in place:
- Ensuring safe distancing practices are maintained, therefore the capacity of women/children accessing the house has been reduced
- Ability to access motels if the house has reached capacity
- Enhanced cleaning practices
- Texting number has been made available 604-869-1872 for accessibility to the house
There is no doubt that we have entered uncertain times, especially considering some of the mixed messages swirling around the internet and social media. We are grateful for the work of our Health authority in communicating regular updates and calming fears and anxieties associated with some of the mixed messages. The prevailing messages we have heard loud and clear is that our best defense against this virus includes good hygiene practices washing hands, covering coughs, and staying home when unwell. Self-isolate for 14 days if you have recently or are returning from outside of Canada, been in contact with someone who has been outside of Canada, or if you have the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Cough or sore throat
Additional symptoms may include muscle aches, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, chills, runny nose, and loss of sense of smell or taste
With all that has been implemented and reviewed, precautionary measures to ensure that the health and safety of everyone attending and working at our facilities is our highest priority. Increased cleaning and sanitizing measures throughout our buildings will continue. We have also distributed signage to remind people of best practices surrounding hygiene and hand washing and physical distancing signage, along with plexi-glass have been installed.
We recognize that we all have been diligent in practicing safe distancing, hand washing and staying home when unwell over the past 2 months and we are feeling the need to expand our circles and get outside and enjoy the summer months. New information is being released daily regarding the relaxing of restrictions and what businesses will be re-opening, this information may directly impact the status of how our services and programs will be delivered. Our promise to you is to monitor information that is being delivered by Provincial and Federal authorities, this may mean we have to tighten up our service delivery again or that we are able to relax our restrictions further. With that said we are committed to continuing to navigate these uncharted waters together with you over the next coming months. We look forward to seeing you again in our office, accessing our services and programs. Keep well and be safe.
Gerry Dyble, Executive Director,
(ph) 604-869-5111 (ext 231)
2021 Message from Our Executive Director
I want to acknowledge that we live, work and play on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the S’ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō) and Nłeʔkepmx Tmíxʷ (Nlaka’pamux) territories. Specifically, the communities of Peters, Sho’hamel, Chawathil, Yale, Union Bar, Spuzzum, Boston Bar and Boothyrod. We are embraced and protected by the mountains and are nourished by the flow of living waters from the Coquihalla River down to the Fraser River. The richness of this natural beauty sustains and breathes life into us. Thank you for sharing your territory with us.
The horrors that have been uncovered in our neighboring community of Kamloops and the discovery of 215 little souls has left me in shock and with many questions. For substantive change to happen, for true reconciliation to occur, we as humans need to listen, hear, understand and be part of the change to right the wrongs of our Indigenous brothers and sisters. As an agency that provides services to Indigenous people, we need to continue to raise our awareness, we need to be open to learning, and asking questions. We grieve for the loss of potential for these little lives, the generational impact that Residential Schools has had on the Indigenous people, as we work through those feelings of grief and sadness, it will be time to rise up, be a witness and walk alongside of our Indigenous people, to speak to the fact that change and action must happen, action is needed now. My commitment as Executive Director is to continue to encourage awareness, education, cultural teachings, to encourage us to celebrate our culture and heritage.
This past year has been a year a year like no other. I have been doing this working for 25 years and I have never been witness to what we have gone through and continue to go through with COVID 19. I have said before you are my heroes, working with our vulnerable people amidst a global pandemic, the unknown and the uncertainty. An image comes to mind, of Isabel in a full hazmat suit at the Colonial, our Isolation center, who would have ever thought that we would have hazmat suits for working in Social Servces. Early on when the town was literally shut down, we had a port a pottie brought in so our clients had a place to use the washroom, a hand sanitization centre was set up. We had families, truck drivers and our community people using these facilities as everything was closed. Thank you to each one of you who suited up, cleaned port a potties, put out hand sanitization supplies, meet with clients virtually, masked and gloved up. Thank you is not enough.
To our community partners and funders who collaborated on how to work collectively yet keeping a 6-foot distance we truly showed what community spirit looks like. Proud to be part of doing this work.
Finally, thank you to the Board for always having our backs, we faced a challenging Fall/Winter with the public hearing for rezoning for the supportive housing, the negativity that some members of this community demonstrated was nothing short of hate and discrimination toward those who are marginalized and oppressed. The final decision of Council to not vote in favor of rezoning knocked the wind out of us. We have however, gotten back up and will continue to do the necessary work of shining the light on social issues and how these issues impact each of us as humans.
I look forward to another year leading this organization into housing our homeless, bringing much needed services to our community, listening to the community and responding in a way that brings credibility, integrity and authenticity to our work. As always it has been my pleasure.
Looking forward to in-person meetings where we can celebrate together. Remember continue to be the light.