COJHS System planner Saran Mallinson adresses the audience on Thursday, June 13. (David Venn - Capital News)

Kelowna residents who have lived through homelessness share their insight with COJHS

Journey Home’s workshop included people from all walks of life

The message at the Journey Home’s Emergency Shelter Design Lab was that everyone needs to come together to eradicate homelessness in Kelowna.

On Thursday, June 13, dozens of community members filled Trinity Baptist Church for a design thinking workshop to help the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society (COJHS) create a service map to understand how to better help people who experience homelessness.

“To make sure that we are including all of the voices who want to be heard is part of the whole concept of ending homelessness,” said society executive director Gaelene Askeland. “Building a community, making sure we have a safe community with everybody, I think the more people that we can get who come from all of those different environments just makes it a more robust conversation and helps us make better decisions.”

The workshop included an introduction by COJHS system planner Saran Mallinson, a guest lecture by Chuck Lazenby, executive director of Unity Project, a homeless shelter in London, ON., and an enlightening conversation by Kelowna community members who have been homelessness.

READ MORE: At the helm of the Journey Home Society

“We don’t want to shy away from having the tough conversations,” said Mallinson. “We like the richness that comes from diverse views all in one room together.”

“There’s a myriad of things that can change their lives,” said one member of the lived experience group about people who experience homelessness. “Some of those people who experience consistent homelessness have lived through child abuse, traumas and different things like that.”

The event was capped off with each table presenting its own emergency shelter design, using the information gathered from the first half of the event.

“If we really know what we want for our community, it gives us better leveraging to get it,” said Askeland.

READ MORE: Kelowna’s Journey Home board marks success


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