Annual Event for Homeless and Those at Risk of Homelessness in CBRM Well Attended

About 450 people participated in the 3rd Annual Under One Umbrella community event for those who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

The event, held on Sunday, Oct. 30, was hosted by a partnership of community based groups and organizations representing the health, social services and community support and advocacy sectors.

“The goal of Under One Umbrella is to give people in need a chance to access support services on one day, all under one roof,” says Eileen MacNeil, event coordinator. “The people who came were able get help and services that they would normally have trouble accessing. Our common goal is to make a positive contribution to the lives of those who attend and to also let them know that we care about them and their personal situation.”

Agencies and service providers donated their time and resources. The services people had access to included: hot catered meals, haircuts, a doctor or nurse, chiropractor, dentist or optometrist, foot care, a massage, immunization and hearing and vision assessments. Free clothing with a focus on winter wear was available. As well, various community services that provide support and information about mental health and addictions, housing, legal aid advice and employment information had representatives meeting with participants. Each person was also given a “comfort kit” containing basic personal supplies.

Under One Umbrella gave participant Karen Parkinson a chance to make a number of connections during the day. “Just like many others in attendance, I was able to take part in several of the services.” said Parkinson. “There was a beautiful sit down meal, haircuts, hearing test, free books, clothes, dental care, support groups and more; I truly felt like royalty.”

One participant, a 21 year-old male from Sydney, said the event gave him a chance to connect with several services throughout the day. “I've been going to Under One Umbrella each year for the past couple of years, and every year it just gets better,” he says. “This year in particular, I was able to get my hair cut, to set up an eye appointment, as well as set up a dental appointment to get some work done I've been needing to for a while. Everyone was really nice and very helpful.”

The partnership between the Nova Scotia Health Authority, various community agencies and businesses is key to the event’s success, says Erin Forsey, a member of the organizing committee and a Health Promoter with Public Health.

“We wouldn’t be able to host this event without the support from our service providers, nearly 100 volunteers, sponsors, donors, Centre 200 staff and our planning committee. The event is a true example of our community coming together to help their neighbours.”

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Media Contact: Eileen MacNeil: 902-563-2409