H.O.P.E. Outreach. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Kelowna women’s outreach group expands to support men amid ‘stressful and uncertain times’

HOPE Outreach says they’re expanding services in reaction to ‘stressful and uncertain times’

A women’s support group in Kelowna has announced they are expanding services to include men in Kelowna and Vernon.

Previously Helping Out People Exploited (HOPE Outreach) has been providing support to at-risk, vulnerable, exploited and homeless women. In addition to support, the group provides basic supplies and when necessary, Narcan. Now, the group says they are doing so for men as well.

The group says they’re expanding services in reaction to ‘stressful and uncertain times’.

Their first men’s outreach shift is scheduled for tonight (Sept. 30).

For 12 years, HOPE Outreach has been supporting women, as the only night time outreach. Now, a second team will be expanding from its existing Narcan team to also serve Men’s Outreach.

They say this was made possible through a partnership with UBCO 4th year nursing students, as well as the university’s SHARP Team.

“We are truly ‘all in this together’, and no one should be without the basics of personal hygiene products, water, clothing and support,” said the group in an email Sept. 30.

Each night, HOPE Outreach volunteers see about 50 to 60 individuals, in both Kelowna and Vernon. This number, they say, is growing daily.

Additionally, they say they will continue to provide life-saving Narcan to both men and women.

“With opioid-related deaths in BC now at the staggering rate of 175 per month, with 73 in the Okanagan so far this year, our team is needed as never before. There have been over 1000 related deaths to this crisis we face,” said the group.

HOPE Outreach began in 2008 as a passion project by two Kelowna women. The program now includes Kelowna and Vernon and has trauma-informed, trained volunteers who go out to the streets nightly to bring basic supplies, personal hygiene products, comfort and support for those we serve.

The group encouraged the public to donate to the cause, if possible, at www.hopeokanagan.com. Also, members of the public can donate their time to become a trained HOPE Outreach volunteer.

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Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: phil.mclachlan@kelownacapnews.com


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