Streetlinks Report

Peer2Peer Indigenous Society

The Peer2Peer Indigenous Society, a community social service organization dedicated to addressing issues affecting at-risk populations in Victoria, BC.

Peer2Peer Indigenous Society, a community social service organization dedicated to addressing issues affecting at-risk populations in Victoria, BC. This organization is led by Métis peers with lived experiences of substance use, poverty, homelessness, and mental health challenges.

The StreetLinks pilot, a day-labor program for unhoused residents who provided storefront cleaning services to businesses in downtown Victoria, Peer2Peer Indigenous Society leveraged their lived experience for peer support in designing and implementing this project. The results included the establishment of a positive community activity to reduce stigma and strengthened relationships between unhoused individuals and business owners. The following is a summary of the evaluation findings that made this conclusion.

This project is unique and an important learning for organizations serving unhoused community members. It evolved from lessons learned directly from lived experience. While unhoused, the founder of Peer2Peer Indigenous Coalition witnessed a community shift in negative attitudes towards people living on the street and the people on the street having a sense of pride and care for their surroundings when they were motivated by a situation where cleaning up their area meant they did not have to be moved on and their lives were less disrupted by bylaw officers. This experience occurred when the founder lived in Nanaimo and slept on the street in front of store fronts. A great relationship with business owners was built by the unhoused community cleaning up every morning the area where they were sleeping, before businesses opened. In turn they would supply garbage bags and meals. The store front business owners broke down stigma by creating a relationship built on trust and mutual respect with unhoused community members. It was hoped that Street Links would create a similar positive relationship and experience. In addition, Street Links sought to provide predictability and a scheduled activity that people could depend on to create community connections and build hope and possibilities within their lives. Many of the current programs supporting unhoused individuals are based on a handout model that does not allow for self-determination and empowerment. This project intended to challenge that construct.

To learn more about this research project and its findings, view the entire body of work here:

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The StreetLinks pilot, a day-labor program for unhoused residents who provided storefront cleaning services to businesses in downtown Victoria….