When you think about helping Guelph’s most vulnerable downtown, you think of Chalmers. They’ve been doing it for decades, and they’ve continued to do it though good economic times and bad. While the politicians look for policy and funding remedies, the good people at Chalmers are on the frontlines of the issue every day, so how do they see issues of poverty, homelessness, and mental health as they currently stand downtown?
What do you think about when you hear the words “Downtown Guelph”? Is it the picture of a thriving historic district with lots of shopping and restaurants, or is it a cesspool filled with desperate people panhandling, doing drugs and sleeping on benches? There are no easy solutions to the problems downtown is facing, and there are huge gaps being filled by several individual service agencies.
This week we’re joined by the head of one of those agencies: Vicki Olatundun, the executive director of the Chalmers Community Service Centre. Olatundun grew up in England, studied law in Nigeria, and worked for various social services in Winnipeg where she launched a gym and an eye care clinic for people affected by homelessness there. She arrived at Chalmers in the middle of the COVID crisis in January 2021, and it’s hard to think of someone better qualified to talk about our present situation here in Guelph.
Olatundun will talk about the current state of downtown and inside Chalmers, and why we need to keep in mind that the people they help are still loved by somebody. She will also talk about currents needs, and the type of assistance Chalmers needs right now in the form of donations and volunteer efforts. And finally, Olatundun will discuss what assistance service organizations need from the government, and why we need to address people’s economic needs before they becomes a crisis.
Let’s talk about moving the needle on downtown’s issues in this week’s Guelph Politicast!
If you want to learn more about all the services offered by Chalmers, and how you can help out, go to their website, or looking them up @chalmerscentre on Facebook and Twitter. If you have donations from Chalmers and want to know when and how to drop them off, call them at 519-822-8778 for directions.
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