Every day many vulnerable Calgarians are faced with overwhelming challenges in terms of sexually transmitted infections, addiction and limited access to critical health care. Fortunately, thanks to generous donors, the Safeworks program seeks to take care of the people in need in our community to build a stronger and more supportive Calgary.
For the last 13 years, the previous Safeworks outreach harm reduction van has been mobile throughout the streets of Calgary offering low-barrier access to confidential and free STI testing/treatment services, vaccinations, crisis counselling, harm reduction education and supplies, referrals to other services, and Naloxone kits and overdose training, among other services. The Safeworks program, which has provided harm reduction services for the last 30 years, seeks to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens are provided the necessary harm reduction services in a non-judgemental, easily-accessible space. The mobility of the Safeworks outreach program is important so the Safeworks team can meet people where they are at, throughout the entire city of Calgary.
Thirteen years ago, Calgary Health Foundation was able to purchase the previous Safeworks van thanks to the support of a generous donation. But with every kilometer the Safeworks van travelled, services and client needs have continued to expand increasing the need for more space and customizations to be made.
Thanks to a generous donation through the Catalyst Fund at Calgary Foundation to Calgary Health Foundation, there will be a new, more customized Safeworks van travelling throughout the community with the capacity to see more patients and provide more treatments. Some of the upgrades provided by the new van include solar panels and better ergonomics for staff and clients. The new van will also expand the capacity of the program to work in higher collaboration with community partners.
Safeworks collaborates with individuals, families, partnering agencies and communities to provide services that aim to minimize risks and improve health for people who may be engaged in higher risk lifestyles, and to promote safety within our communities.Bringing partners on-board allows Safeworks workers to provide on-the-spot referrals to community supports, which is critical for ensuring that marginalized populations receive continuity of care. Safeworks partners with HIV Community Link to provide support in the van and organizations such as The Alex, the Calgary Drop-In Centre, CUPS, John Howard Society, and Alpha House on an outreach basis.
“The work we do would not be possible without the collaboration and support of the community we serve and we are committed to being a good partner and neighbor,” Christie Clark, Safeworks Program Coordinator.
As the provincial outbreak of sexually transmitted infections, the opioid-crisis, and the economic downturn continue, the need for the new Safeworks outreach van is great. With the new van on Calgary streets we can rest assured that our community members in need of support are acknowledged, respected and cared for by this program.