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Oct 10, 2019

Healthy Living Goes Inside the Welcome Resource Center

Today we celebrate World Mental Health Day. Several activities were planned in commemoration, including a speech contest we heard about earlier in the newscast. On October, twenty-sixth, the Mental Health Association will host a fundraising banquet and this Saturday, the Welcome Resource Center is hosting its second annual sleep out. In tonight’s Healthy Living, we find out more about the fundraising effort.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Since the Welcome Resource Center opened its doors six years ago, it has registered about four hundred participants. This drop-in centre can get very busy as it caters to some of the most vulnerable groups. The centre is a gathering place for the homeless, the mentally ill, the elderly and deportees. It was the brainchild of the Mental Health Association to build the centre to cater to the mentally ill and homeless.


Joyce Ellis

Joyce Ellis, Administrator, Welcome Resource Center
“Besides medication, the mentally challenged also needs social support, so that’s what the resource centre provides.”


Joyce Ellis is the administrator for the center. She explains how the mentally ill become homeless.


Joyce Ellis

“Substance abuse is also a form of mental illness. So of this population, we have we say they are dual. Yes they are mentally ill, but they are also using the drugs to self medicate to cause even more complication especially the alcohol.  Sometimes one: compliance with medication two: families don’t know who to deal with a person who suffers mental illness. Another thing is that causes them to become homeless is that they had no job.”


Kirk Simpson has been coming to the centre since it opened. He’s lived on the streets for many years. He says about five to ten years.


Kirk Simpson

Kirk Simpson, Participant, Welcome Resource Center

“I use to stay under the BelCan Bridge and watch Brad’s shop. (Laugh)  I use to work with the Public Works Department.  Then I use to work with the City Council first, then I went to Public Works, but they all shut down now they no have no more jobs again to fix the streets.”


Meanwhile, for eighteen-year-old Winston Gabourel, after graduating from Stella Maris School in 2018, he’d hoped and tried find a job.


Winston Gabourel, Participant, Welcome Resource Center

“I try everywhere I try full out form da City Council and none of them wah hire me.”


Winston Gabourel

While Kirk is homeless, Winston is not; the teenager started dropping in at the centre earlier this year.



Marleni Cuellar

“How often you come, yah?”


Winston Gabourel

“Every day.”


Marleni Cuellar

“Why you come here?”


Winston Gabourel

“Because sometimes I noh have nothing fi eat and I don’t have a job. Why I like to come here; there’s no noise ih peaceful and no trouble.”


Kirk Simpson

“They treat us good. They treat us just like your ma and pa when they use to tell you weh fi do when you mi young. They tell you fi keep yourself clean. Scrub your tennis, wash you shoes, and clean yourself.”


Kirk does stay at a night shelter and utilizes the Welcome Resource Centre during the weekdays.


Joyce Ellis

“Initially, when we opened, we offered only lunch. Now we’re at breakfast lunch, and on Fridays we’d give a to-go package on the weekend. So we have that on Friday.  At nights, these participants will have to make their way over to wherever they go to spend the night. We have a few who are at the Raymond parks shelter, but for the most part the others are outdoors.  Over the last six years that I am here, the nights for me hasn’t been restful. Especially If I start to hear rain and things like that, the other morning the staff will be here extra early to be in someplace warm and get out of the wet soiled clothes and things like that.”


The centre relies primarily on fundraising to keep its doors open. It does receive a subvention from the Ministry of Human Development and part of the staff’s salaries from the Ministry of Health.


Joyce Ellis

“Our unmet costs right now are about six thousand five every month; we have to find that six thousand.”


And so, for the second year, Ellis and her team have planned the sleep it out event. An event where the public can pay to spend the night outdoors and experience – just a bit –what it feels like to be homeless.


Joyce Ellis

“When you think about safety, using the bathroom, maybe you get up, and you want some water or juice or coffee. These people don’t have that. They just sleep wherever night would take them.  What I hope for it to change in people is when you see a homeless. Don’t say he or she want to be there. Sometimes it’s not by choice and we don’t know the circumstances of that individual.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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