“Our day begins with loading the van up with essentials items, like hygiene kits with gloves, toques, hand warmers, emergency blankets, underwear, masks, lunches, water and injectable Naloxone kits.”
Raphi describes what a typical work day for her and the team looks like, and I am sure it looks a bit different then how you might start yours. That’s because Raphi leads a team called SeedReach which is a mobile addictions unit that works out of The Mustard Seed. They provide services from a van and travel around Calgary offering case management and access to resources to the more transient population in our communities.
“After loading the vehicle… we map out our day and determine what it will look like. Oftentimes, we select who we need to perform a wellness check on in the field. Other times, we map out which areas of the city are highly trafficked with rough sleepers/transient population,” says Raphi.
“Wellness checks include engaging in casual conversation with the client, determining what their needs are and navigating how we can best meet them. When visiting a high traffic area this also means engaging in casual conversation.”
The goal of SeedReach is to work at dismantling the barriers that can surround accessing services for those experiencing homelessness and poverty. With the chance to be mobile and actually travel to the populations in need, The Mustard Seed is able to provide the needed services to more people living on the streets of Calgary.
“As majority of the population do not have access to any forms of communication (i.e.: a phone), we are the “middlemen” in relaying messages between agencies and navigating how to access services,” explains Raphi.
“The team is often found on the street, providing supportive counselling, and supporting someone in completing forms/applications to addiction/mental health supports, income support, housing support, or identification supports.”
Each year, especially as temperatures rise, there are hundreds of homeless Calgarians that take to the streets and rough camp in various parks and river areas of the city. Due to the pandemic and rules in shelters and housing, these numbers have been increasing. The industry is trying to provide direct supports to combat this growing population by launching mobile outreach teams. SeedReach is working diligently to build bridges for these Calgarians back to supports and hopefully a better quality of life through case work, shelter visits and housing.
Since the first unit began in August of 2021, SeedReach has had the opportunity to interact with roughly 1,045 individuals. Alongside this, last year they have also provided 795 advocacy hours and 135 supportive counselling hours.
There is a huge need for mobile services like this in Calgary. As the complex issues that the transient population experience become more prominent, it is vital to have services like SeedReach in place to offer the support that many people need. As we recognize the barriers that keep people from coming to our buildings, we have the chance to work on more client centered practices and meet them where they are, rather than assuming they will come to us.