April 17th, 2024

Let’s Chat: They need our help

By Linda Tooth on March 27, 2024.

Some of us are fortunate enough to have a roof over our heads and enough food to keep us going. Unfortunately, there are those who are not as fortunate.

Personally speaking, I can not imagine a life of living outdoors, sleeping on the ground, wondering where I can go to the bathroom, and what my next meal will be and where will it come from. I am now at that age where bathroom locations are something I scope out the minute I go somewhere new – to not know is something I shudder at.

For many in Medicine Hat, this is their everyday reality. Homeless encampments are popping up in areas that are secluded by trees and not on main roads.

You can tell these areas as there is garbage lying on the ground, bags of personal effects strewn about, and sometimes you will encounter a person lying on the ground or hiding within the trees.

That can be scary for those taking part in the feeding of community cats or those who are out walking their dog. I am part of a small group of community cat caregivers who have encountered individuals living in encampments and it is scary.

Most of the time you are not sure if they are under the influence of drugs or are just tired and hungry.

I was happy to hear that MHPS, the fire department, AHS and other local agencies are working together to create a pilot project looking into these encampments.

The project, called Proactive Engagement and Community Enhancement Team, or PEACE, is going to be going to these encampments and figuring out how many people are living there and what resources they can connect them to.

In my heart, I cannot imagine someone thinking that living outdoors when the weather is so unpredictable, in a communal area, and not knowing when they will eat is the only option life has in store for them. If that is what they truly believe then we have failed them in some aspect.

Everyone deserves the opportunity of having a roof over their heads, bathrooms and food available. Through this collaborative initiative, one hopes that people living in the encampments will be able to find the help they desperately need.

Linda Tooth is a communications instructor at Medicine Hat College

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