The Neighbourhood Ministry is a collaborative ministry offered by the Anglican parishes of St. Anselm’s, St. Philip’s, St. Helen’s, and St. John’s Shaughnessy on Vancouver’s Westside. Under the guidance of Rev. Dr. Pitman Potter, the Neighbourhood Ministry is in its 9th year of offering care, companionship and practical help to our most vulnerable neighbours living on the Westside streets and in marginalized conditions.
At the core of the Neighbourhood Ministry is its street outreach program. Teams of 3-5 people (one from each parish) take part in the preparation and distribution of packages to homeless folk on the west side. Volunteers deliver nutritious packets of food, clothing and other necessities every Saturday morning, year-round. The greatest gift is that of conversation and companionship, and those living on the street have developed a trust in Neighbourhood Ministry volunteers. The parishes donate items in-kind and cash, as well as provide volunteer help. This ministry initiative transforms the lives of those who prepare, give and receive the packets by fostering friendship and understanding.
Building Community at Dunbar Apartments
Neighbourhood Ministry volunteers help build community at the Supportive Housing apartments at 17th and Dunbar. Dunbar Apartments offers housing to formerly homeless people from the area – many of whom were referred by the Neighbourhood Ministry – as well as those with mental illness referred through the Vancouver Health Authority. Volunteers at Dunbar serve dinner on the weekends and offer seasonal celebrations for building residents. In addition, volunteers offer one-on-one assistance that ranges from accompanying residents to medical appointments to pastoral care. The Neighburhoood Ministry contributes funding toward a breakfast program. Coast Mental Health manages the Dunbar Apartments and through the Neighbourhood Ministry involvement in the building, a very collaborative relationship has formed.
Mobile Care Unit
In 2017, the Mobile Care Unit (MCU) was launched in partnership with the UBC Schools of Medicine and Social Work. The MCU is a travelling team who provides basic medical care and social services to homeless and low-income populations in our neighbourhood who may face barriers to care. The team is comprised of doctors, medical students, social work students, and Neighbourhood Ministry volunteers. They visit three sites on average 8 times per month, sites where homeless and needy neighbours gather for community meals. Currently, this includes visits to the Kitsilano Showers for the Homeless program at the Kits Community Centre (Saturdays), St. Mary’s Kerrisdale (Tuesdays), and St. Augustine’s Marpole (Thursdays). Our MCU team also visits homeless people where they live – in alcoves, laneways and beaches. Volunteers assist in any way they can to help clients access resources and services available.
The Angels Program The Neighbourhood Ministry has ‘angels’ to help with supporting the people we serve. Volunteer angels are paired with clients who require extra support in accessing services for which they are eligible. Angels play a significant role in supplementing services done by the Mobile Care Unit, working behind the scenes to advocate for and assist clients.
Funding and Support Funding for the Neighbourhood Ministry activities is shared by the four sponsor parishes (St. Anselm’s, St. Helen’s, St. John’s Shaughnessy and St. Philip’s). Parishes donate items-in-kind and cash, and provide the bulk of volunteers. Over the years, neighbours and friends not associated with the churches have joined as volunteers, to be part of this special and life-changing ministry.
Beginning in 2018, The Neighbourhood Ministry Mobile Care Unit is the grateful recipient of care+share funding from the Diocese of New Westminster.
There are many ways to support the Neighbourhood Ministry. You are warmly welcome to join us! Visit our website at www.neighbourhoodministry.com