It was a bit of an eye opener for members of Vernon’s newest outreach team this past weekend.
Members of Hope Outreach hit the streets for the first time to try to help Vernon’s most marginalized women.
Founder Angie Lohr says they came across many women, more than they might have expected, and they were in trouble.
“Addiction is just rampant. people are saying there’s nowhere to go. Not that services in Vernon aren’t doing everything they can do. Everyone’s hands are tied.”
Lohr says they handed out several naloxone kits.
She also said she saw more women walking the streets than she does normally in Kelowna.
Lohr says the team, came across from 10 to 20 women, when normally she might see 4 on Kelowna streets.
Why the difference in numbers, she’s not sure, but Lohr says it’s possible more women living a risky lifestyle could be inside in Kelowna as there are three massage parlours there and none in Vernon.
She added she came across a number of women who used to be in Kelowna, now walking the street here.
Lohr says the 10 local volunteers were greeted with appreciation by the people they saw.
She’s hoping to have more volunteers in the coming weeks with the possibility of expanding from weekends only.
Lohr says she’s hoping to work more closely with the local agencies to get a better idea of what’s going on and what more Hope Outreach can do to be involved and close the gaps at night time.
But she admits her workers’ shifts might start a little earlier in the evening while it’s still light out so they can get into areas that might not be as safe later in the night.
Her focus is on women but says men out on the street need help as well and wonders if at some time, an outreach for both men and women will be available on nights where there is no help now.