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Homelessness Action Week; October 10th to 17th

The Neighbourhood Ministry was started in 2007 when a small group of concerned church members decided that they would like to support the people who are unhoused on the West Side. The response that they got from many was “there aren’t any homeless people on the Westside”. But then these same people started to look around them: there’s someone outside Shoppers on Dunbar, and at the corner of 4th and Vine, etc. They realised that the issue wasn’t that there weren’t any unhoused people in our neighbourhood, it was just that they didn’t SEE them. I believe that that is the same, to a greater or lesser degree, for all of us. As we go about our busy lives, the homeless people become almost invisible and I’m sure that sometimes they feel that way too.

During Homelessness Action Week, take a moment to look at the people sitting on our sidewalks, say hello, give them a toonie, a coffee, or a sandwich. That way they will feel less invisible, and I suspect that small interaction will also enrich your day. 

Homelessness Action Week also coincides with Thanksgiving; it is a good opportunity to take a moment to be grateful for our housing and other creature comforts. Please keep our friends on the street in your thoughts and prayers. 

Rhona Thornton

Parish Liaison to the Westside Anglican Neighbourhood Ministry 

Report of the Outing of September 25, 2021

Thank you for Providing the Supplies for the Sept 25th Outing. Steph, Jane and Joan were joined by Karen Giesbrecht from Union Gospel Mission. In the past year representatives from the Neighbourhood Ministry have been meeting with various groups who provide food on the Westside. We are the only ones who actually go out on the streets and meet the people in their own environment. Karen has always been very impressed with our work so she came along to find out more about our Ministry.

They all met Suzi at St. Philips and were sent out with packages, sandwiches (prepared by Katie), bananas and eggs (provided by Joanne), clothing, blankets, shoes and a phone for D. Thanks to all the parishioners who contributed to this week's donations and to Suzi for coordinating everything. Joan said a prayer and the group headed out.

Over the course of the morning they saw 20 people, many who are known to us and some new people. There was a group of six people camping under the off-ramp from the Granville Bridge at 7th and Fir. This is a spot where we often see small encampments, but only for a short time as the police move them on. At Granville and 10th, they saw two of our regulars. Jane had recently got them both the proof of vaccination document which they were very happy with. Since neither of them has a phone or access to internet, it was invaluable to them that Jane did this for them.

Joan also went above and beyond our usual services. One of the guys had body lice and a cough so she went and bought him the products that he needed to treat these, and went back and gave them to him later in the morning.

Clothing and Camping Supplies Drive

As the weather gets colder and wetter, we are looking for donations of the following to the lidded plastic tubs on the porch:

  • Winter and rain jackets
  • Rain and track pants
  • Fleeces and hoodies
  • Hats and gloves
  • Warm/waterproof boots- especially mens size 9, 10 and 11
  • Sleeping bags- ideally synthetic as they dry out easily (example)
  • Sleeping pads
  • Tarps 
  • Our Pantry Supplies Are Low: We are especially short on fruit and pudding cups.

Thanks to all our donors who make this ministry possible.

On their Saturday outings during the month of June, Street Outreach teams made more than 60 connections with people in need. Services provided by the teams included helping with Covid vaccination registrations, and providing food, toiletries, clothing, sunscreen and water (the latter particularly needed on some of the extremely hot days). We continue to be grateful for the trust that we build as we attempt to make a difference in the lives of those we serve.  

The Mobile Care Unit (MCU) continues to provide bi-monthly medical and social services at St. Augustine’s, Marpole, 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm on Thursdays. Dr. Stephanie Chu operates the medical services side of the MCU, which offers basic medical services (wound care, diagnosis, preventative care, assistance with disability applications, and referrals for long term or specialty care).  More than 15 people were served by the MCU in June, with services ranging from disability, diabetic and dietician information assistance to housing, CPP, tax claims, birth certificate and ID applications. A special request was made for bedding, clothes, underwear, etc., for one of Dr. Stephanie’s patients, which we were able to provide.  

On June 15, Liz Hamel stepped away from the position of Program & Volunteers’ Manager, but continues to be on the Board of Management in her role as interim Priest-in-Charge at St. Helen’s, Point Grey. In the meantime, the WANM Board of Management continues to be in discernment regarding future staffing needs. 


We are recruiting volunteers, so if you would like to be part of any of the teams or assist with our social media presence, please contact Joan at [email protected] For more information on the WANM, please visit: and the Facebook page: 

How is the Neighbourhood Ministry Funded? 

The Westside Anglicans Neighbourhood Ministry (WANM) is a collaborative effort of four Westside Anglican parishes (St. Anselm’s, St. Helen’s, St. John’s Shaughnessy and St. Philip’s), all under the Diocese of New Westminster.

Each church contributes $2,500 annually to the WANM. St. Philip's contribution comes out of the Outreach Budget. The rest of the funding for WANM comes from grants. In 2018 and 2019 this Ministry received a Care and Share grant. In 2020 it received a grant from the City of Vancouver and recently it was awarded $10,000 from the Union Gospel Mission's Christian Leader's Fund. The WANM expenses include, but are not limited to, staffing (Rev'd Liz Hamel worked as Program and Volunteers Manager from Fall 2020 to June 2021), office supplies, sleeping bags and other camping gear, Christmas Outreach, individual support (eg moving-in expenses for a client) and funding for meal programs at the Dunbar Apartments.  The food supplies that go out every week are collected by each church individually and mainly donated by their parishioners. St Philip’s also maintains its own separate Neighbourhood Ministry account to fund the purchase of items it may need (protein bars, Ensure, socks, etc.)  

It is a little confusing for parishioners at St Philip’s as the accounting for the WANM is on St Philip’s books. When looking at the St Philip's financial reports, you will see the WANM and the NM reflected in two areas and these are two different pots of money.

Photos by WANM volunteers, Colour photo by Clay LeConey  and black & white photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash