Sanctuary Sanctuary's mission is to serve as a healthy, welcoming community where people who are poor and excluded are particularly valued. Since 1992, Sanctuary has been a refuge for people who are homeless and living in poverty in downtown Toronto. Sanctuary's philosophy is to seek out relationships with people who have been pushed to the margins of society, providing comfort and resources in the short-term, and paving the way for a road out of chronic poverty in the long-term. The network of healthy, nurturing relationships that people build within the Sanctuary community is often the deciding factor that empowers them to pursue positive change in their lives, such as finding ... read more Sanctuary Sanctuary's mission is to serve as a healthy, welcoming community where people who are poor and excluded are particularly valued. Since 1992, Sanctuary has been a refuge for people who are homeless and living in poverty in downtown Toronto. Sanctuary's philosophy is to seek out relationships with people who have been pushed to the margins of society, providing comfort and resources in the short-term, and paving the way for a road out of chronic poverty in the long-term. The network of healthy, nurturing relationships that people build within the Sanctuary community is often the deciding factor that empowers them to pursue positive change in their lives, such as finding housing or employment, reconnecting with their families, or achieving sobriety. 800-1000 individuals come through our doors annually and 400-500 join us on a regular basis. Our community is diverse, including many Indigenous and racialized people, and LGBTQ people. Our community includes people who are homeless and cannot access shelters, living in homeless shelters, precariously housed, couch-surfing, and living in sub-standard or social housing. Most people in our community have chronic physical or mental illnesses, disabilities, or addictions. Our programs include: -Hosting 4 weekly drop-ins, including 2 community meals that serve 200-250 people per week; an arts program where 10-15 artists from the street community have access to quality arts supplies and mentorship from our artists in residence; and a women's-only drop-in that is regularly attended by 10-20 women and offers a safe space and fun activities. -Offering demographic-sensitive healthcare to 200-250 patients, with 750-800 unique appointments per year. In 2017, our clinic also became an official Naloxone education and distribution centre to help combat the opioid overdose crisis in our community. -Providing individual mentoring, advocacy, and other supports to help Sanctuary community members achieve personal goals. This year, these supports have included: resume writing and job search support, helping people to safely leave abusive relationships, helping people connect with addiction rehabilitation services, caring for peoples' pets during emergencies, accompanying people to appointments and providing transportation, helping people to navigate the child welfare system, and helping people find and maintain dignified housing. In 2017-18, Sanctuary provided these kinds of supports to varying degrees to 200-300 people. -Walking the streets to offer water, snacks, socks, and an invitation to join us for community meals and gatherings; -Supplying clothing and toiletries to complement our shower facilities; -Facilitating employment at our bike shop, Switchback Cyclery; -Celebrating life together at our concerts, plays, non-denominational church services, and other special events and; -Providing supported, community housing at two houses for 8 men and women from the street community. Switchback Cyclery One of Sanctuary's major initiatives is it's employment social enterprise: a service-focused bicycle shop called Switchback Cyclery. Most members of the Sanctuary community have had little experience of dignified and meaningful work. Their work experience has involved cash jobs, day work, and simple unskilled labour. Work has primarily been about making money rather than experiencing the many benefits that come from a productive, fulfilling occupation. People living in poverty are also vulnerable to unscrupulous employers who take advantage of their vulnerability and inability to demand their legal rights as workers. Switchback Cyclery offers an alternative to this uninspiring and unsafe experience of work, and offers the dignity, empowerment, and life-changing stability of safe, rewarding work. Switchback employs people from the Sanctuary community with significant barriers to employment, including: chronic poverty, long-term unemployment, a history of homelessness, mental and physical health problems, and addictions. Switchback's mission statement is: propelling community. Entry level staff join our team in the service department or as retail customer service associates. Our hands-on training seeks to progressively increase staff's capacity to develop skills, including building relationships with customers, creative problem solving, and time management. Incoming repair shop staff start at our bike wash station and build skills to become apprentices, journeypersons, and, eventually, technically knowledgeable and skilled Lead Hands. Our staff all receive regular professional development training as well as one-on-one mentoring and support with finding stable housing, banking and budgeting, accessing medical treatments, and developing strategies for personal growth and development. Although Switchback is a social enterprise, focusing on the double bottom line of running a profitable business and achieving the social goal of providing dignified work for people with barriers to employment, most of our customers know us primarily for our excellent, attentive service and quality product offerings. Switchback does $500,000 (CDN) a year in sales, and currently employees five people under our supported employment model.
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