The Loop 'was doing something to help': Former worker frustrated with lack of stability in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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The Loop 'was doing something to help': Former worker frustrated with lack of stability in Kamloops

Human services advocate Tanya Spahmann (standing) with a service user, Erika Stefan, who used The Loop resource center in Kamloops before it was closed down in July.

A human service worker is speaking out on behalf of the marginalized population after the closure of The Loop resource center in Kamloops.

Tanya Spahmann worked at The Loop from when it started to when it was closed. She sits on the boards of the Covid Meal Train and Out of The Cold and is in her third year of a social work degree at Thompson Rivers University.

She said supportive agencies in Kamloops are not working together effectively to provide wrap around services for marginalized people and closing The Loop only took more away from those in need.

“The Loop was the only thing a lot of these people had,” Spahmann said. “It is frustrating for human service workers who keep trying to help when there is no stability. These service users are stigmatized everywhere they go and the resources available to them are not secure, especially in regard to supportive housing availability. The Loop was doing something to help.”

Spahmann says she has seen firsthand how a lack of supports affects the mental health of marginalized people who are struggling with complex needs, and Loop service user Erika Stefan is an example.

“Erika has been living on and off the streets for a long time,” Spahmann said. “She has been banned from support services by some agencies here because she has behavioural problems stemming from mental health challenges. This makes it really difficult for her to access supportive housing and basic necessities. She then acts out more because she is afraid and insecure.”

Stefan had been a regular at The Loop until it was closed down. She says she still accesses meals through the Covid Meal Train and it is one of the few resources available to her.

“It is a vicious cycle,” Stefan said. “There is a lot of hatred that you take on from others, it is crazy-making. So you get angry and then they ban you from resources. I spent weeks in the cold last winter, filthy and freezing while everyone else was inside eating. I felt so isolated. I feel like there are different rules for different people and inconsistent rules between agencies here. The Loop was a good place to go to.”

The business license for The Loop was revoked by the City on July 22 after a fight broke out on the site. This appeared to be the last straw in an ongoing spat between the City and the organization, who had already been deemed a nuisance property.

READ MORE: iN VIDEO: City of Kamloops revokes The Loop’s business license

Spahmann said there was a misunderstanding surrounding the fight that occurred that day.

"Many people on social media jumped to the conclusion the fight was between service users," she explained. "In fact, the fight was provoked by a citizen who was angry The Loop was operating."

Spahmann said until the gaps in support services are closed, resource centers like The Loop should remain in place, and in order to close the gaps, more effective communication needs to happen among support agencies.

"No transition plan was identified by the City and the agencies involved," she said. "If our agencies could communicate together on a common board maybe we could see more wrap around services become available to help these people. Closing The Loop means all those marginalized people who were able to access three meals a day for seven days a week are falling between the gaps." 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 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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