Thanks to funding from the Saskatoon Health Region, the Lighthouse Mobile Outreach has expanded its service to 16 hours a day, from 8:00 am to midnight for a 6 month pilot project. By calling 306-653-0538, the Lighthouse will send someone to check on individuals who appear to be homeless or in distress.
“The goal of the program is to engage homeless, street-entrenched individuals and develop relationships with the purpose of assisting them in accessing housing and other services including health care, mental health and addictions resources,” says Dennis Bueckert, Director of Client Services at the Lighthouse. “The focus is on where these individuals are in our community and helping them with what they need.”
Operating out of a Dodge Caravan, mobile outreach workers provide sandwiches, water, toiletry items, and warm clothing in winter, all with the goal of building relationships with street-entrenched, chronically homeless individuals. Immediate goals are to ensure individuals have a safe place to sleep, but the ultimate goal is to see people in appropriate housing or accessing the supports they need to succeed.
Outreach Average Monthly Statistics
1140 people helped
600 sandwhiches handed out
300 people taken to a safe bed
30 tanks of gas
120 cups of coffee (consumed by staff)
Originally the program began through a grant provided by the Saskatoon Community Foundation’s 2013 Signature Grant, which enable the Lighthouse to purchase a retrofitted ambulance to transport homeless and/or intoxicated individuals to the Lighthouse or other support services between the hours of 5:00pm and 9:00pm. Funding for staffing in 2014 was generously provided by the Royal University Hospital Foundation Community Mental Health Endowment (CMHE) and the Community Initiatives Fund.
Through fundraising, including proceeds from the Amazing Race – Lighthouse Edition in 2014, the Lighthouse was able to expand the Mobile Outreach services an extra two hours, from 4:00pm to 10:00pm.
The pilot project of 16 hours a day has greatly increased the capacity of the outreach team, who are now able to transport individuals to support services and health care during day time, and provide street outreach in the evenings.
The Lighthouse has a nurse on site, as well as counselors on staff to help connect those who spend the night to resources in the morning. There has been an increase in the number of people staying in the Stabilization Unit month after month, which means that there are fewer people using other emergency services unnecessarily such as police, ambulance and emergency room visits due to intoxication. The Lighthouse’s 20-bed Stabilization Unit has also been funded through the Saskatoon Health Region to a full 24-hour program for a 6 month pilot. The Lighthouse continues to fund raise to expand the service to 37 beds as well as renovate the long-term supported living suites. The Lighthouse is a non-profit housing provider offering emergency shelter, supported living and affordable housing for those in need in downtown Saskatoon.