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Group tasked to help Penticton's most vulnerable finding initial success

November 26, 2018 - 5:08 PM

PENTICTON - Penticton RCMP say the city’s new social initiative aimed at helping those with an elevated risk of vulnerability in the community has already had some successful outcomes.

The Community Active Support Table held its first meeting in July, following receipt of a $50,000 grant from the province to get it up and running. The group has no operating budget, relying on the efforts of those involved to keep it going.

The support table provides a forum for police, education, children, housing and health ministries, city community agencies and other stakeholders to meet once weekly in a collective partnership aimed at identifying vulnerable residents and getting them the help they need.

Penticton RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager says the group has dealt with 18 situations so far with “quite a bit of success.”

“It doesn’t necessarily get people off the street,” De Jager says, adding the program is exactly like the one being recommended to the City of Kelowna by former Kelowna RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon in a report on improving public safety.

De Jager says the program doesn’t always work, mainly due to the fact some people might not be interested in help.

He says those homeless people who are currently finding a roof over their heads at the city’s emergency shelters aren’t considered at elevated risk now, but will be when those shelters close in the spring.

“We’ll then have more homeless, but by that time hopefully the Winnipeg Street housing development is up and running,” he says.

The successful outcome of several situations by the Penticton group hasn’t been restricted to homeless issues. De Jager says they have also come to the aid of some of the city’s youth at elevated risk.

“It’s working. Everybody who needs to be together is together at those meetings,” he says, adding those cases have been mitigated by everyone around that table, because they are together and able to talk to one another.

De Jager says any agency can bring a situation forward and action is immediate.

“The whole mandate is, 24 to 48 hours there’s a solution on the table, and we’re sending someone out to deal with it. It’s quick and integrated compared to the old system of all of us going back to our individual desks,” he says.

Penticton RCMP spokesperson Const. James Grandy says the school board recently brought a youth situation to the group, not knowing what to do about the issue.

“They needed outside help, including the police, and they didn’t know who to talk to… due to this table, they are able to get that, thanks to everyone sitting at the table,” Grandy says, noting it’s not just the police but all community groups who are represented.

An academic review of the support table’s success is planned after the table’s first year of operations. Grandy says the police can quantify their success through statistics, but it might not be so easy for other groups sitting at the table.

De Jager said the support table’s work will be subject to an academic review, most likely by one of the province’s universities.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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