The Sudbury Homelessness Network, independent outreach workers, both reach out to help the vulnerable | Pro IQRA News

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In late 2020, a community group called Bizzy Bea’s began serving an estimated 14,000 warm meals to the homeless in Sudbury.

That business was halted when Public Health Sudbury & District said the group – which is not affiliated with any of the city’s official service providers – was ordered to stop distributing food until it could do so from a certified kitchen, in accordance with health regulations.

But Chantel Dupuy, founder and CEO of Bizzy Bea, said she has since enlisted the help of former downtown restaurant owners, received a large Metro purchase for food donations, and now expects the health unit’s “beautiful little label” to be approved in the coming days.

“With the certified kitchen, it kind of opened my eyes to the scale we’re achieving, especially with a Metro subscription,” Dupuy said. “It really opened my eyes… Like, we’re all over Ontario, right now.”

Chantelle Dupuy and her son Mathieu load a car to deliver hot meals to people suffering from homelessness in Sudbury. (Provided by Chantel Dubuis)

Once approved, volunteers with Bizzy Bea’s will take food to the city’s homeless, usually working within hours, and the doors of Elgin Street Mission – a facility that provides housing services, temporary shelters and warm meals – are closed.

Although her team sits outside city authority — causing some other organizations to raise concerns about appropriate training or repeat services — Dupuy said Bizzy Bea’s primary focus will be on people in need, not bureaucracy.

This could be anyone,” Dupuy said. “These could be the children of anyone there. It could be anyone’s sister and brother there. This could be anyone’s parents.”

“It doesn’t overwhelm anyone,” she said. “No one fits in a private box.” “For me, it’s really spreading awareness that this can happen to anyone. And if we’re all kind of involved in it and we’re holding on to each other, maybe the effect is less terrible.”

But Denis Constantinou, chief executive of Center de Sante, the leading group in the homelessness network in Sudbury, said an independent group providing outreach, while well-intentioned, was creating waste in the system.

There is a waste of resources… this is useless– Denis Constantinou

“There is a waste of resources, both in material resources and in terms of food wasted,” Constantino said. “So this is not helpful.”

The city’s homeless network is made up of six community groups – SACY, John Howard Society, Elizabeth Fry Society, L’Ass Association des jeunes de la rue, N’Swakamok, and Center de Sante – each of which take the lead in Its own area in a particular area. A multi-pronged approach.

Their efforts are coordinated – including using the downtown mission as a base of operations, and getting people to get food, where they can then access needed services.

Denis Constantinou is CEO of Le Center de santé communautaire du Grand Sudbury, a group that helps the city’s homeless and vulnerable residents. (Yvonne Thierault/Radio Canada)

But if outreach groups are not part of the chain, the homeless in Sudbury – estimated to number 400 in 2021 – may not receive the best possible care, including finding shelter or a permanent home.

“If outreach groups are going to meet clients in their places of residence, that makes it more difficult to communicate with them for other services because they will not come to the mission,” Constantino said.

“They don’t connect to housing services, where workers can assess where they are on that journey toward permanent housing.”

The city has a nickname [housing] List,” he said. Customers are known by workers. And when they connect to other groups and are not part of that system and receive services, customers think they are part of that network. They think they are part of this system and that they are accessing those services but they are not.”

Constantinou said there are also concerns about worker safety. City agencies, especially those providing housing services, meet the lengthy training and requirements related to health, safety and crisis intervention.

“The other groups don’t have those requirements,” he said. “I’ve seen some groups recruit high school students to go out and get their volunteer hours to volunteer with a group.”

“This is not a safe environment for high school students,” he added.

But Dupuy said Bizzy Bea’s is not trying to fly in the face of existing city regulations.

“I still see ourselves as very young, just a family group,” Dupuy said. “We go out and distribute the food.”

“We go out after hours, get in our cars and bring food to where [homeless] she said.

But now that Bizzy Bea’s has gained momentum, Dupuy said she’d like to expand her program to other cities in the North.

“I know Timmins also has a really bad posture and weakness,” she said. “So I feel like they’re going to need a Busy B Kitchen. Thunder Bay, Timmins, North Bay, Sue.”

“If we could really spread our canopy, really spread our wings, and reach out to all these different communities, I think that would be a really cool thing.”

Morning North9:20A Sudbury non-profit group will soon be making meals for vulnerable locals

Bizzy Bea’s is just one local group that provides outreach services throughout the city. The nonprofit will reopen its doors to provide food for the homeless, but the head of the Homelessness Network has some concerns. We heard from Bizzy Bea’s founder and CEO Chantelle Dupuis. We also heard from Denis Constantinou of the Homelessness Network.