New partnership

Shaun Hanna, the Southwest Youth Emergency Shelter board president, speaks during the announcement of a new partnership with Southwest Crisis Services, Nov. 5.

The Southwest Crisis Services (SWCS) outreach program in Swift Current has relocated to Dorie’s House to ensure services are more accessible to the community.

The move to Dorie’s House near the downtown area is the result of a new partnership between SWCS and Southwest Youth Emergency Shelter (YES).

The relocation of the outreach program took place in the first week of November and was formally announced on Nov. 5.

The SWCS outreach program provides counselling and support to women, men and children dealing with interpersonal issues or who are at risk of abuse. Rebecca Donnelly, the outreach manager at SWCS, said the new location of the outreach program is more practical and accessible than the previous office space at the SWCS safe shelter for women.

“We were already reaching out to several community organizations, and talking about what we do and what they do, and it happened in some of our discussions in the community that we got talking to Southwest YES,” she explained. “We got talking about Dorie’s House and the fact that we were looking at having a different space. … We really wanted to have somewhere more in the community, more visible as a program, to say we’re here and ready to support you. Dorie’s House is a great central location. There’s that beautiful building there. It just came together and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Shaun Hanna, the Southwest YES board president, said the new partnership formalizes an existing relationship between the two organizations that has developed over several years.

“One of the issues that we find, and I think this is common in many communities, is that you have a lot of amazing, really impactful organizations that are kind of siloed in their own sort of way,” he mentioned. “We’ve always taken that interagency approach that we’re trying to build this support network for youth that are falling between the cracks and that we have to get out of that sort of silo mentality.”

Dorie’s House was built through community support to serve as an emergency shelter for homeless youth in the southwest. It was open for eight months during 2017 as a pilot project to highlight the need for such a service in the region, but thereafter the eight-bed facility had to close due to lack of funding.

One of the questions that repeatedly came up at the Southwest YES annual general meeting in July was how they could build capacity towards opening the shelter again.

“One of the ways that we have decided as a board to go is let’s double down and collaborate with other organizations, and Southwest Crisis Services is a natural fit,” he said. “So we reached out to their board, their board reached out back to us, and we figured what is the best way we can do that. So how can we as an organization build capacity and also provide a really effective and cost-efficient service model to basically strengthen the services throughout southwest Saskatchewan.”

The two organizations have previously experienced the benefits of working together when Dorie’s House was open during the pilot project, and the SWCS women shelter was full.

“When we ran our pilot project in 2017, we had a really strong partnership where we would have to expand our mandate to accommodate when their shelter is full,” Hanna said. “There was an occasion where an 18-year old couldn’t get a placement at the women shelter, but we had a bed. So it’s that natural sort of back and forth.”

The layout of Dorie’s House makes it possible to accommodate other services on the premises, because the office space in the basement is separated from the shelter.

“It has always been part of our plan to rent out our office spaces to organizations, partially to offset costs, just the caring cost of the building, but most importantly so that those services that would be essential to our needs would also be readily available,” he said.

For Donnelly the new location of the SWCS outreach program has some added significance due to the strong support that the community has shown for Dorie’s House.

“Dorie’s House was made by the community,” she said. “People in the community came together to build it. That’s something special to be a part of when that big goal of ours is to bring the community together to work on issues and to overcome them and support people.”

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