St Felix Centre helps address the immediate symptoms of poverty – Homelessness, food insecurity, social isolation and access to basic needs. They also advocate for new policies from the government in a hope to one day eradicate poverty. We asked Brian Harris, the Executive Director of St Felix Centre about what he does and why he got involved.
What problem does it aim to solve?
St Felix Centre has a mandate to address the immediate symptoms of poverty including homelessness, food insecurity, social isolation and access to basic needs. While we provide these services through our programs we also engage in advocacy efforts to help change policy from various levels of government to address poverty.
When did you start/join it?
I joined St Felix Centre in July of 2012.
What made you want to get involved?
I had been volunteering with St Felix Centre for several years prior and felt a strong connection to the organization. I also live in the community and was eager to have the opportunity to support the community in which I live.
What was the situation like when you started?
Obviously poverty was well established in 2012, however St Felix Centre was a much smaller organization at that time and the impact that we were able to achieve was less.
How has it changed since?
As the City of Toronto began to provide more resources for community agencies to develop programming to support marginalized individuals, St Felix Centre expanded our efforts and our programming is now able to reach more people in need of support. During that same time the situation within the City has continued to worsen and the number of people who are experiencing poverty and homelessness has continued to increase.
What more needs to be done?
There needs to be more investment from higher levels of government to address homelessness. Toronto is Canada’s largest city and needs sufficient resources to address this problem. The investment needs to happen much faster as only adding a few hundred housing spaces a year can’t catch up with the demand. Lastly, there needs to be a collaborative sector approach to review why so many people are entering into homelessness and how we can more proactively intervene to prevent it.
How can our readers help?
One of the most important things is to be educated on the problems. They are numerous and they are complex, but if people don’t have a strong understanding of what they are, it is very difficult for them to know how to help. I would encourage everyone to get involved; find somewhere to volunteer; follow our social media channels as they can be very informative about current trends.
Do you have any events coming up?
Our next event coming up is our spring/summer fundraiser called ‘For the Love of Lobster’. We are still in the planning phase so details are still to come!
Where can we follow you?