Two local centres working for people facing upheaval in their lives have joined forces in a first-of-a-kind partnership, to create a business to raise funds, raise awareness, and help their clients.
The East Kootenay Men’s Resource Centre, open since January, 2017, and the Cranbrook Women’s Resource Centre, in operation for 35 years, have launched the company Kootenay Moving and Downsizing, an all-purpose service to help the people of Cranbrook and area with all aspects of their own change of residence, or change to residence.
The Men’s and Women’s Resource Centres are facing a continual financial crunch. Neither operation receives government funding, yet both are on the frontline of social problems, largely affecting the working poor, or those facing sudden barriers to society.
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Co-ordinator Steven Baker, a social worker by vocation, helped launch East Kootenay Men’s Resource Centre earlier this year, modelling it after its female counterpart, the Cranbrook Women’s Resource Centre. The Centre provides professional counseling support a referrals for a wide range of issues, for men, women and families.
“We’ve seen over 400 [clients] in the past year since we opened,” Baker said.
Clients can include men dealing substance abuse, mental illness or homelessness, with families falling apart or in children custody conflict, men just out of prison, or struggling with unemployment or suicidal feelings — there is a great range of issues affecting these individuals and the people around them.
“We’re serving men from all ages and all walks of life,” Baker said. “Including working families. People undergoing a catastrophic injury or illness, job loss or family breakdown …
“If we’re going to address any social problem, and help the most vulnerable, you need to get past the stigmas,” he added. “We’re dealing with complicated issues, and complicated individuals. There’s a lot more to it than just sending a guy to treatment. You have to address the underlying issues and give him the long-term support he needs.”
The East Kootenay Men’s Resource Centre operates out of the Community Connections building on 2nd Street North, the same as the Women’s Resource Centre.
A “one-stop-shop” Baker said, helping provide access to homeless outreach programs, Interior Health, legal aid, substance abuse programs, and more. The Men’s Resource Centre also offers peer support groups, drop-in “talk and do” sessions giving support for a range of topics, anger management programs.
There is still a waiting list for people who need access, he said, even though many clients just need temporary support.
“In an ideal world, people would get this service on their health card,” he said. “In other provinces, these services are funded by provincial health authorities. We hope to eventually get government funding, but until then we have to rely on community support.”
Denise Stewart, Co-ordinator at the Cranbrook Women’s’ Resource Centre, says that in just under a year since the Men’s Centre has been open, the need for it has been proved. In the meantime, the need for the Women’s Resource Centre — in operation for 35 years — is proved over and over again.
“We serve roughly between 1,500 and 2,000 women a year, from all over the East Kootenay,” Stewart said.
While like the Men’s Centre, the individuals and issues they face are many, unique and complex, the main issue the Women’s Centre clients face is domestic violence. The Women’s Resource Centre provides transitional support for women and families over a period of time, like a year.
Both centres continually face a funding crunch. They are not funded by the government, and rely on community donations.
Accordingly, the EK Men’s Resource Centre and the Cranbrook Women’s Resource Centre have joined forces — in what Baker says is a partnership unique to Canada — to form Kootenay Moving and Downsizing Service.
“It’s the first of its kind in Canada,” Baker said. “No where else has this model been applied.”
Kootenay Moving and Downsizing can also help people with downsizing solutions, or even help get their home ready for a sale.
“If you’re relocating, decluttering, or in transition, we can do it all for you,” Baker said. “We can help manage all the aspects of your move — sorting, packing, unpacking, settling in … if you’re a senior moving into Joseph Creek, for example, we can move you in, pick furniture, move things into storage. We can donate or sell things online, for a percentage. We can help set up estate sales or garage sales, and help people get ready for a sale.”
The program presents a portal into employment for people who normally have barriers to employment — men and women with disabilities, who are dealing with those catastrophic life-changing events, or those in transition into the work force. Baker said the program provides work, a reference, helps boost esteem and a skill set. It also offers a flexibility to help them get lives back on track.
And all profits go back to the two centres.
“We’re working to stop violence against men, women and families,” Baker said.
For more information on Kootenay Moving and Downsizing or the Cranbrook Women’s Resource Centre, contact Denise Stewart at 250-421-3824, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Kootenay Moving and Downsizing or the East Kootenay Men’s Resource Centre, contact Steven Baker at 250-489-8631, or email email@example.com