Heather Gordon Murphy of the Downtown Business Improvement Association meets with volunteers from the Get the Point downtown clean-up team. Image provided

New Campbell River outreach program empowering volunteers

Get the Point offers peer outreach and support for people using substances and experiencing homelessness

A new Campbell River pilot project is empowering vulnerable community members while cleaning up neighbourhoods.

Get the Point volunteers clean up garbage and sharps around Campbell River while distributing items like sunscreen, hats, water and harm-reduction supplies to people experiencing homelessness.

Clean-ups take place three times a week and are organized by what the city calls “volunteer peers,” people who are currently experiencing homelessness, or who have in the past.

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Some of the program’s volunteers live outside and have a desire to contribute to the project, a press release said.

“The program really helps because having people out there who were homeless or using and are now clean really gets others feeling like they can do it too,” said Ray Goodwin, a peer leader. “Everyone I talk to likes this program. It’s a lot easier to talk to someone if they aren’t just book-learned. If you know someone’s been there, they get it, you know?”

Peer volunteers receive training and an honorarium as part of the program. By the end of July, seven peer members had been part of the program with further interest from others, the press release said.

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The pilot project began in June and has targeted a number of areas for clean-ups including downtown, Campbellton, the Dogwood and Cedar area, Quinsam Heights, in green spaces like Nunns Creek Park as well as along the waterfront.

“It was great to meet the enthusiastic and excited group of people heading out to help clean up downtown Campbell River,” said Downtown BIA Chair Heather Gordon Murphy in a press release. “We look forward to seeing the results.”

The program is run by Kwakuitl District Council Health and was developed with input from the City and the RCMP. It received funding from the City, in partnership with Island Health and the Campbell River Community Action Team.

According to a press release, the program will continue to run into the fall when it will be evaluated to see if it continues.

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Volunteer Luka Kellerhals with peer leader Ray Goodwin. Image provided