Regina organization advocates for street worker supports
- EFN Staff | March 10, 2019
An organization in Regina strives to provide safe and culturally sensitive services for people involved with street prostitution, those at risk of becoming street involved, and providing supports for families with addictions.
Over the years, the Street Worker’s Advocacy Project (SWAP) began expanding services to serve the community. Located in the north central part of the city, the SWAP building became a safe haven for those in need. SWAP offers services such as the drop-in centre, outreach services, support groups, public education and the evening street outreach program.
On average, the age range SWAP sees on the streets can be from the age of 12 and up. Almost 70% of the women SWAP connects with working on the streets will utilize the drop-in centre.
Barb Lawrence, the Executive Director of SWAP, said they estimate there might be around 200 people working in prostitution in Regina.
“We have well over 2,000 individuals who utilize the drop-in centre on a fairly frequent basis,” said Lawrence, who added 95% of those people are Indigenous. “We’re estimating over 40,000 visits for this current fiscal year. I think that speaks to the issue of the credibility that we established, particularly through our street outreach program.”
SWAP partnered with the Ministry of Social Services, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and Namerind Housing Corporation to establish Raising Hope – an initiative that provides housing for at-risk, substance-using pregnant and early postpartum women. Raising Hope provides safe housing and in building programming for pre-natal and parenting support, childcare, transportation for appointments, counselling, wellness sessions, and building healthy relationships with other mothers.
Olivia Pelletier struggled with her addiction to crystal meth but has been clean for over six weeks now. She first moved into the Raising Hope building last October and due to the progress on herself, her four children were back in her custody.
Pelletier heard about Raising Hope through her child protection worker. In order for Pelletier to move into Raising Hope, she was required to go to detox before moving in.
“At the time, I was homeless. I came to meet [Raising Hope’s Residence Manager] and she told me that they would hold an apartment for me but I had to go to detox first,” said Pelletier. “I ended up going through detox and ended up moving into here [when I completed].”
To help with her addictions, Pelletier utilizes outreach programs such as the Crystal Clear support group which aims to provide support for crystal meth addicts.
“Being homeless for the amount of time I was and losing my children and my home. I lost everything. Before that, I was a homemaker. I had a home and spent a lot of years clean and sober so I know what that life is like. I’m wanting to get back to that; having a home for my family, being sober and being a good example for my kids.”
Pelletier knows that she can get back to that lifestyle again. All it takes is to focus on her recovery and taking advantage of all the programs that Raising Hope has to offer. That’s why she feels Raising Hope and SWAP is essential in order for families to succeed.
“It is such a high need that a lot of people don’t get the help that they do need. I know this place in particular has a lot of support [to offer],” said Pelletier. “We have programming all week…another program like this would be ideal. I think there needs to be more definitely.”