Mar 2020 | Community Profiles
When a person facing homelessness goes to Island Crisis Care Society (ICCS) for help, it’s guaranteed that their story will be heard, and they’ll be treated as equally as any other resident of Nanaimo.
“We see people at their absolute worst, when they’re in crisis and have nowhere to go and no one to turn to,” says Violet Hayes, Executive Director of Island Crisis Care Society. “It doesn’t matter where they are in life, they are real people; someone’s mother, sister, or brother. Inside we are all the same.”
ICCS provides shelter and care for those in need in Nanaimo and Oceanside. Their work in our community started in the 1980s when a group of concerned citizens leased a worn-out Victorian mansion to provide shelter for those in need. Their idea was that people need a hot meal and a warm bed before they can start to rebuild their lives. That concept has carried on to today.
Continuum of Care
ICCS helps people with crisis stabilization and has several programs and housing options, depending on their needs.
For example, Martha’s Place and Mary’s Place offer support for women. Martha’s Place is for those who are still dealing with addiction and often coming right off the streets, while Mary’s Place supports sobriety and helps women transition to independent living.
“No matter where people are at in their recovery, we have options to offer care to help them get back on their feet. Our aim is to help them move out of homelessness and eventually into independent living,” says Violet.
ICCS also owns and/or operates a number of other supportive housing buildings, buildings with shelter beds and sobering assessment beds. However, no matter how many beds they’re able to offer, there seems to always be demand for more.
“At any given point, all of our beds are full and there’s a demand for at least 40 more that we don’t have,” says Violet. “And, we’re continuing to see a high percentage of seniors coming to us, simply because they’re losing their housing and there is no affordable housing available to them.”
Volunteering with ICCS
To offer these essential services in Nanaimo and Oceanside, ICCS depends heavily on volunteers.
There are lots of important ways to get involved with Island Crisis Care Society, from help with everyday chores, sorting donations, and special events such as the Coldest Night of the Year. Their volunteer training sessions offer basic training around mental health and substance use to ensure all volunteers are prepared.
For more information in ICCS and how to get involved, visit: https://www.islandcrisiscaresociety.ca/