They count, too
Caitlin Murphy, a CLSC social worker, will be present for I count MTL, three years after the first edition of the census. Homelessness is especially important to her, as she was a social worker at St. Michael’s Mission for five years.
“I think it’s important for Montrealers to get involved, as it’s an issue they face every day. It’s a way to take responsibility.”
Taking part in the census may change your views of life on the street, as one of Caitlin’s volunteers found in 2015.
“I was responsible for a group of eight volunteers, and one of them, a teacher, broke away from the discomfort she felt towards homelessness. She even took the time to chat for 20 minutes with a talkative person that she interviewed. It was a revelation for her, and she loved her experience.”
Caitlin also gained the confidence of homeless people during the first edition, who said they were surprised by the positive attitude of residents toward them. They themselves had prejudices that disappeared that night.
Seeking hundreds of volunteers
The census will take place on the evening of April 24, and people who would like to give their time can choose the time slots that work best for them.
The Douglas Hospital Research Centre is carrying out the census in collaboration with the Mouvement pour mettre fin à l’itinérance à Montréal. Volunteers will attend a training session and will generally go out on the street in teams of three or four people.
“An official report (in French) is written from the data collected during the census,” said Caitlin, “but what I’ve noticed in the field is that the services that are being offered to homeless people have changed. From now on, at the Old Brewery Mission, people have to participate in a program and have an action plan in order to have a bed at night, because even though we can’t eradicate the issue completely, the ultimate objective is to get people off the street.”
Some 140 community organizations will participate in the second census here in Montréal, which is supported by the city and the Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux, while 60 other Canadian communities will carry out the exercise.