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An Armstrong resident invited a homeless man back home for a shower, meal, and shelter

An outreach worker makes a bed at the Gateway Shelter in Vernon.
November 19, 2014 - 7:27 PM

HERE'S WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY 

VERNON - A stabbing incident in Armstrong could have been prevented if the assailant had been connected with appropriate support services, according to Vernon’s homeless shelter.

Police say the assault happened when a Spallumcheen resident invited a homeless man to his house for a hot shower, a meal, and shelter. During the evening, they shared some drinks and when the homeless man refused to go to bed, the host told him to leave the house. Police say the man then stabbed his host in the stomach with a knife. The 59-year-old was charged with aggravated assault, and the host is recovering in hospital.

Kelly Fehr, with the John Howard Society, says it’s never a good idea to invite a stranger into your home—and give them alcohol—whether they’re homeless or not.

“Good deeds are always great,” Fehr says. “To provide someone with some food or take them into a restaurant is a great idea. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when you’re inviting someone you don’t know into your home, you’re putting yourself, and that individual, in danger.”

He says marginalized individuals can struggle with mental health or addictions issues, and it’s best to leave outreach up to trained professionals.

“This situation could’ve been avoided if the person connected him with the services available,” Fehr says. “If people want to help, they should educate themselves on the services available in their community.”

The John Howard Society operates three shelters; Howard House, Gateway, and in the winter, the extreme weather response program. The organization also offers addictions recovery programs and transitional housing. Fehr encourages the public to visit the website, learn about the services available, and refer people to them.

If you’re going to offer a homeless person food or money, Fehr says it’s best to do it in a safe environment, like a restaurant, grocery store, or other public place.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

—This story was edited at 10 a.m. Nov. 20 to add a new link to the John Howard Society website. 

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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