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North Bay session highlights need for compassion for people living on street

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A recent information session on homelessness in North Bay found that compassion can go a long way toward helping someone on the streets.

Hosted by the Compassionate Committee for the Homeless, which partnered with Trinity United Church, the event featured guest speakers with frontline organizations and people who lived without a place to stay who shared their stories

Bryan Eade was homeless four times in three different communities in an eight-year span. Now, he’s the manager of the Warming Centre.

“A lot of people are just trying to make ends meet day-to-day just like everybody else," he said.

Eade and the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit are promoting the See the Person campaign, which puts faces to homelessness, aiming to change the negative narrative attached to the issue.

“To be labeled as a user or someone who just struggled with mental health is unfair,” Eade said.

The campaign calls for the community to show kindness to people living homeless, to get educated on the issue and advocate for change.

“We recognized the need for a compassionate-based message,” said Tawnia Healy, the community health promoter in the health unit’s Healthy Living Program.

“You don't need to be an expert on housing to advocate for your neighbours."

This information session was meant to give an insight into what people need to know about those facing homelessness.

Hosted by the Compassionate Committee for the Homeless, which partnered with Trinity United Church, the event featured guest speakers with frontline organizations and people who lived without a place to stay who shared their stories. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

The main thing people can do, says Josh Faubert, is be kind-hearted. Faubert struggled with homelessness and turned his life around. He's now helping others who are in similar situations.

“I'm trying to be an example to the Nishnawbe community and stand up,” Faubert said.

“I'm almost a social worker. I graduate in April. We're all somebody's dad, somebody's brother, somebody's something."

SOLID RAPPORT

Faubert is an outreach worker at True Self DEBWEWENDIZWIN social service. The service has 11 outreach workers who have built a solid rapport with more than 130 vulnerable individuals in the North Bay area.

The service launched a pilot program called Peer Outreach Security Team.

"We'd send out a peer outreach worker with a security guard. It helps us connect with the vulnerable population,” said John MacKenzie, supervisor of outreach services.

“The security guard would give a sense of safety and the peer outreach workers are able to provide the services. There's been good feedback so far."

Each speaker said showing kindness can help someone down on their luck and in some cases, has given them motivation to turn lives around.  

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