Media and the Message
October 17, 2017
Advocacy -working to raise awareness, identify solutions and create systemic change around the issues our clients face- is at the core of the work that we do.
Advocacy work can take the form of conducting client research, giving deputations to Toronto city council, organizing press conferences, marching in the street with like-minded community members. It can also include inviting members of the press to visit us, take a tour, meet our staff, and understand our clients’ stories. Three Street Health staff members have recently spoken with the media, and have some concerns that we feel need to be heard.
Registered Nurse, Allana (below, second from right) and Harm Reduction Worker, Marty recently met with award-winning author Lauren McKeon from The Local to discuss the darker side of community “revitalization”. [read The Local article]
“…Toronto downtown east side community members and advocates, are all wary of the area’s lurch toward so-called ‘revitalization’. They fear building developments in the area, including a new community centre and new condos, will push out residents, squeeze services, reduce already-sparse affordable housing, and drastically, negatively alter the area. “We call it revitalization, but revitalization of what and from whose perspective is it revitalization?”
Street Health Nurse Practitioner, Jessica Hales (above, left) recently penned an opinion piece for the Toronto Star. [read Jessica's piece]. From the perspective of a health professional, Jessica expressed, with detail and compassion, the true plight of homeless people who cannot find a safe place to sleep due to an overcrowded shelter system…and dwindling alternative options as winter approaches.
“…On an average night, the city’s own referral centre fails to locate beds for everyone in need. Yet the need for shelter extends far beyond Peter St. and has reached crisis proportions. This summer, hundreds of people who needed shelter beds could not access one — approximately 100 women slept in chairs or on floors at drop-in facilities, and countless others remained in unsafe relationships and living conditions. In April 2013, it was estimated that 447 people spent the night on the street — a number that has likely grown.”
Advocating to bring awareness to these challenges is a call for immediate, sustainable responses. Too often, the most vulnerable members of our communities are the ones whose voices go unheard. The problems that homeless people face are complex; solutions must also be…and neither should be ignored.