Thompson Rivers University third-year nursing students Mai Hayashi and Tracey Beharrell (missing, Mary Agu) are working with the Shuswap Family Centre on a project to build relationships with, and raise awareness of, the homeless people in the Shuswap. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

B.C. nursing students express passion for helping the homeless

The need for an outreach worker is near the top of their wish list

Three university students from Kamloops with a passion for helping the homeless are bringing their support to Salmon Arm.

As part of their practicum, Tracey Beharrell, Mai Hayashi and Mary Agu, third-year nursing students at Thompson Rivers University, are doing a community project in conjunction with the Shuswap Family Centre entitled Building Hope within a Resilient Community. They say their goal is to build a relationship with, and raise awareness of, the homeless population in the city.

“We’re here mostly because Tracey is passionate,” said Hayashi. “She volunteers with the homeless population in Kamloops. I studied about marginalized populations and worked with the homeless population at Vancouver Coastal Health as a volunteer. I worked with them in Japan too.”

Hayashi said there are “tons” of homeless people in Japan, but they’re hidden because they’re ashamed.

“It was kind of a shock when I first came here,” she said. “We’re less progressive about the issue.”

Related: B.C.’s homeless, vulnerable only receive adequate care when nearing death: study

The young women emphasize there is not just one reason people end up homeless – factors might include childhood trauma, addiction, mental illness and more.

Related: Stories unite Canadians on homelessness action: UBC study

Through their project the students hope to receive donations of money and food/clothing/supplies to support those who are homeless. Receipts will be given for donations over $10. Items they’d welcome include back packs, toothpaste and toothbrushes, warm leggings, feminine products, thermal shirts and water bottles.

They realize these are short-term solutions, and also want to support steps that make a long-term difference.

“People living rough are very resilient people and very resourceful in how they survive day to day,” said Beharrell. “We’re looking to increase awareness of the resilient homeless population, but also looking at avenues to meet basic needs such as shelter – and an outreach worker.”

The students also said they’ll be watching out for frostbite, a big concern recently.

To connect with the students and their project, email


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