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Welcome CenterFour community partners are pleased to announce the opening of a new space for people seeking some connection during this time of required social distancing, called, “The Welcome Center” in Owen Sound. This community-led initiative will provide additional support for people who are homeless or precariously housed, as well as extra support for those individuals needing more social connection. The Welcome Centre is a partnership between CMHA Grey Bruce, Grey County, Safe n Sound and Public Health. This is a space where anyone can stop in and rest, get a cup of coffee, a snack and some education regarding social distancing and how to stay safe during the Covid-19 situation. There will also be support to access the testing site if someone is feeling unwell and also increased access to isolation spaces while awaiting test results.

“Not everyone has a safe place to isolate if feeling unwell. Knowing that housing is a human right, not just for infection control but as a matter of health and human dignity, the Welcome Center can help bridge people to resources that they may have yet to access. It is also a source of social connection for those that are feeling alone and anxious. The social contagion of loneliness and anxiety needs to be supported at the same time as Covid-19 and it is always a delicate balance.” Said Matthew Shute, Program Director, Community Connections: Housing & Support

There are many people that are finding shelter with others in close proximity because there is no other option. All COVID-19 precautions are in place and screening for symptoms of Covid-19 takes place prior to entering the common space. People returning to crowded apartments will be able to access some PPE equipment and gain some knowledge related to its proper use. There are 10 people allowed in the space at one time and everyone will be situated six feet apart.

People accessing the Welcome Center can expect some take-away snacks for the mornings and discuss questions about local mental health and addiction resources in the community, gain more knowledge related to COVID-19 and experience an additional place to come together in a socially responsible way.

The Welcome Center is located at 854 2nd Ave East in Owen Sound and will be open on Monday’s and Friday’s from 9:00am to 11:30am.

More fast facts about the Welcome Center:

While the space is large enough for 18-20 people, there will be a maximum number of 10 people in the Welcome Center at one time. This would bring the total number of people within the Welcome Center to 12. Four different rooms offer many options for visitors at the Welcome Center.

Access to the Welcome Center will be staggered if there is a greater need than can be facilitated at one time.

Enhanced cleaning and sanitization of surfaces that have frequent contact with hands will be done daily and more often when visibly dirty.

Staff will be available each day to support conversations around required services, harm reduction and ideas to keep one safe from Covid-19 and loneliness as well.

source: media release, Welcome Center

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