"Peer Outreach is really about building relationships. There are many people we see frequently and we want them to feel safe when we approach them"
Our Peer Outreach team provide street level outreach for those dealing with substance use issues in the downtown areas of Edmonton and Calgary. They offer support to their peers, provide information on safer drug practices and link people with a broad range of community services across the cities. Through agency partnerships we seek to remove barriers for our population and build relationships of trust. Our Peer Outreach workers are out twice a week handing out supplies to individuals living on the street. We are closely connected with Safeworks in Calgary and StreetWorks in Edmonton.
Peer Outreach started here in 2011 and is facilitated by the AHS Safeworks Harm Reduction Team. Since its inception our peer workers have furthered their skills through courses at the University of Calgary and they have also had the opportunity to lead the Calgary Homeless Foundation's - Point in Time Homeless Count. They have now been formally acknowledged as supporting partner in the Calgary community.
Following the success of Calgary Peer Outreach, Edmonton launched here in 2012 with the extraordinary support of StreetWorks. Within this short space of time, the workers have moved from strength to strength, growing partnerships and gaining the respect of their community.
Successes and Stats
The following provides a snapshot of the work our Peer Outreach workers accomplish. Since inception, our workers have continued to improve their own learning, enabling them to better educate their peers. In both cities they continue to reach more and more contacts each month and develop new partnerships with client serving organizations.
Through evaluation of the project, we have found that our strength is being able to engage with people who no other service is able - a result of the effectiveness of the peer model.