Posted by Vi Hughes on Feb 19, 2019
This Tuesday we heard a presentation from Lauren Becker on the Bissell Centre’s vision for the future. The goal of the Bissell Centre is to eliminate poverty, both financial and social poverty and give people hope for the future. To this end, they provide a wide range of supports and programs for inner city families and residents. They currently operate twenty different programs with a staff of one hundred and forty people.
Their recently renovated building has offices, meeting rooms and spaces for all kinds of programs. They have a large indoor space where they offer coffee, meals and snacks, which are available at all times, washrooms, shower facilities, clothes washing facilities, and various meeting rooms.  It is a warm welcoming space for people to just come and hang out, if they so desire. They regularly serve one thousand cups of coffee every day. They offer services such as acting as a mailing address for people living on the street, offer supports to help with basic banking, help with filing tax returns and accessing government benefits, and financial literacy workshops. They also have a large kitchen where they teach people how to prepare meals. Some other programs they provide include a drumming circle, Yoga classes, sharing circles and computer basics.
Another of their programs is Employment Services to help people with applications and resumes, They also offer help with housing in conjunction with Homeward Trust, and have a team of people who go out onto the streets to help people living there to find housing. They offer loans to help people who already have housing, but need some financial help, to stay in their current housing. Another of their programs is Victims Services, for people who have been a victim of crime. They help with filing police reports and applying for victims services aid.  In addition, they currently operate a Day Care for thirty-seven children, which will soon be expanding to serve seventy children as part of the Alberta government daycare initiative. They also offer clothing and supplies to their clients and their families.
The Bissell Centre is always looking for volunteers to help prepare meals, teach classes, sort clothing and help with their various fundraising endeavours. All of their volunteers undergo a short training session prior to starting their service. The Bissell Centre receives some government support for their programs but also rely in individual donations, so there are many ways that we can help them out.