4th Annual Under One Umbrella Event Held in Sydney

About 800 people participated in the 4th Annual Under One Umbrella community event for those who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

The event, held on Saturday, Nov. 4, was hosted by a partnership of community based groups and organizations representing the health, social services and community support and advocacy sectors.

“The goal of Under One Umbrella is to give people in need a chance to access support services on one day, all under one roof,” says Eileen MacNeil, event coordinator. “The people who came were able get help and services that they would normally have trouble accessing. Our common goal is to make a positive contribution to the lives of those who attend and to also let them know that we care about them and their personal situation.”

Agencies and service providers donated their time and resources. The services people had access to included: hot catered meals, haircuts, a doctor or nurse, chiropractor, dentist or optometrist, foot care, a massage, immunization and hearing and vision assessments. Free clothing with a focus on winter wear was available. As well, various community services that provide support and information about mental health and addictions, housing, legal aid advice and employment information had representatives meeting with participants. Each person was also given a “comfort kit” containing basic personal supplies.

Jo-Anne Rolls from the Ally Centre of Cape Breton was part of the organizing committee and referred a number of clients from the centre to the event. “It’s a ‘one stop shop’ approach, to help minimize referrals and support the most vulnerable in our communities,” she says. “The focus of the event is to provide necessary support and health services under one roof for people at risk of homelessness.”

In 2016, research initiatives supported by NSHA staff concluded that 137 people were found living homeless in a one day count. Erin Forsey, Health Promotion Coordinator with Public Health and co-chair of the Under One Umbrella committee says although we don’t see many people living homeless in our streets, we see it in other forms.

“Many people in our communities are living with others or staying in places temporarily and lack a secure place to call home,” she says. “Having a safe, supportive place to live is one of the key determinants of health. Without it we can’t expect people to take their medications properly or get to necessary appointments.”

Under One Umbrella is a partnership between Nova Scotia Health Authority and various community agencies, service providers, businesses and volunteers.

“We wouldn’t be able to host this event without the support from our service providers, nearly 100 volunteers, sponsors, donors, Centre 200 staff and our planning committee,” says MacNeil. “The event is a true example of people in our community coming together to help their neighbours.”

Media Contact: Eileen MacNeil: 902-371-0101 or Erin Forsey 902-564-2410