It is distressing that the council of Parksville has ordered the Manna Homeless Society to cease their activities in the field on Jensen Avenue. It appears they believe that Manna is responsible for the garbage and used needles found in the park. Nothing could be further from the truth.
No needles are handed out by Manna and they have not given out tents for many months. Manna does provide access to used clothing donations and does supply emergency food supplies only. They do not compete with the food bank or other meal services. Manna does provide health services in our Care Mobile – our nurses manage foot care, wound dressings, advice regarding personal care and referral to the appropriate resources should something more extensive be required. They also assist people to register for services such as the Medical Services Plan and disability payments. They refer people to appropriate social services that can assist them with registering for housing. Manna also provides spiritual care and counselling.
Many people come to the Manna van on Saturday morning, not all of them homeless. There are elderly people, men and women, who are unable to survive on their meagre pensions. They rely on the food bank, SOS, meals provided by Salvation Army and various churches, and Manna. All of these non-profit organizations keep them from falling by the wayside and becoming homeless themselves.
It is so very narrow-minded of the council to leave Manna as the scapegoat here. Instead, they should be working with Manna to provide a safe place for their vehicles to set up so they can continue to provide services to the poorest residents of their City. Taking services away from these unfortunate folk will not make them go away. Housing them, even at minimal levels of accommodation, is the only way they will leave the streets and make the city as beautiful as it should be.