Everything Bissell Centre does is grounded in its vision of eliminating poverty.
Working in community, we remove barriers and support people as they move out of poverty.
A Community Without Poverty
Ending poverty in our community may seem like an impossible dream, but Bissell Centre believes that if we all take steps that align with that goal, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In our experience, great things happen when we work together toward change. Just ask any of the 15,759 people who have found homes because of Edmonton’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. We know that eliminating poverty cannot be done by a single individual or group. It takes a commitment from the entire community, even you!
Working toward a poverty-free community is not simply a hope, belief, or bold statement. It is an invitation for you to join us. We believe that a community without poverty will see the following:
- Families and individuals have sustainable livelihoods, secure and safe housing, and can meet their basic daily needs.
- Families and individuals have strong and healthy support networks, a sense of safety, and physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health to engage in their community more fully.
- Families and individuals have an increased sense of hope for the future.
- Individuals have access to the resources and opportunities they need to recognize and reach their full and desired potential.
“I would not be where I am today without Bissell Centre and all the support.”
—Davina, Bissell Participant
The Framework That Guides Us
Bissell Centre follows four strategies that provide a clear path to enhance and expand our poverty elimination efforts. The strategies address what we do and how we it, and are focused on ensuring Bissell Centre achieves the highest standards of operational excellence.
Although we are working towards a day where Bissell Centre is no longer required, the elimination of poverty in our community will be realized more quickly if our efforts are coordinated by a robust organization.
1. High Quality Programs and Services
Bissell Centre develops and provides high quality programs and services and impactful community and economic development initiatives that benefit individuals, families, and neighbourhoods in poverty by:
- Increasing involvement in, and advocacy for, appropriate and accessible housing options and supports
- Continuing our commitment to providing supports that address systemic gaps and barriers
- Enhancing alignment and collaboration with partners to increase effectiveness of supports
- Engaging collaboratively with local neighbourhoods and stakeholders
- Developing community-based social enterprise that will be sustainable and impactful for the community
2. Truth and Reconciliation
Bissell Centre commits to participating in the large systems work required to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and the National Report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls for Justice by:
- Building honest, meaningful, and good relationships with Indigenous communities (Nations/peoples), leadership, and organizations that support and act with them
- Centering the lived experience of Indigenous participants and staff
- Providing proper protocol to listen and learn with Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Indigenous people to gain understandings of traditional knowledges of all Indigenous Nations in Treaty 6
- Developing opportunities for staff to build understanding and capacity to work with Indigenous participants, colleagues, Nations, and organizations
3. Systems Change
Bissell Centre aims to influence systems and societal change by:
- Engaging with all levels of government and other institutions to contribute to policy change and best practices that support families and individuals to move out of poverty
- Ensuring the voices of people with lived experiences are heard in a meaningful way to them
- Building an organizational culture based on learning, reflection, and a commitment to evidence-based practice
- Educating and raising awareness about the issues and complexities of poverty and inviting the community to actively engage in the elimination of poverty
4. Organizational Sustainability
Bissell Centre develops resources, capacity, and long-term organizational sustainability by:
- Organizational planning with a continued commitment to excellence that includes governance, risk management, infrastructure, and administrative capacity development to achieve our vision and mission
- Ensuring our work is consistent with, and pays close attention to, environmental sustainability across the organization’s operations
- Raising funds to directly impact the people we serve and ensuring a high quality donor experience
- Increasing public awareness about Bissell Centre and the impact of our work in the community
- Developing a healthy culture of employee engagement, accountability, celebration, and professional development that supports employees to understand their role in our vision and mission
- Providing equal opportunity, competitive staff compensation and benefits, and pay equity for all employees
It’s about the whole community participating together to end poverty.
—Bissell Centre Staff
Our values are reflected in all aspects of our work and within the culture of Bissell Centre. They are our commitment to ensuring our participants and our employees are involved with an organization that puts people first.
Deep regard and recognition of the value and dignity of all people and their gifts, strengths, experiences, values, cultures, rights, beliefs, and property.
The individuals and families we support are at the centre of all we do. Participants self-determine their path forward with the support of Bissell Centre and our programs and services.
The goal of fairness that includes diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. Equity is actively ensuring everyone gets fair access to opportunities so they can engage in their community fully.
Commitment to working with others to increase quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of supports for individuals and families living in poverty.
To act with honesty, accountability, and trustworthiness toward participants, colleagues, partners, and leadership.
To be good stewards and take responsibility for our personal and organizational actions and decisions.
It’s great that these services are available to us and staff is knowledgeable and friendly.
Our Practice Philosophy
Our community-work practice is guided by these key philosophies that represent the leading practices of the human services sector and our commitment to ensuring our participants are served with accessible, high quality, informed, evidence-based, and culturally appropriate programs and services.
Bissell Centre will seek to provide programs and services that are culturally safe at their core. Our culturally responsive practice includes empathy and caring, reflectivity about our own beliefs about people from other cultures, our own cultural frame, and that we seek knowledge about other cultures.
Bissell Centre will seek to find, affirm, and encourage people to build and apply their strengths, assets, and supports to move out of poverty and prosper. All communities, families, and individuals have strengths, assets, and supports they can develop to make change.
Bissell Centre will provide services that are consistent with the principles of trauma-informed practice including safety, trust, choice and control, and compassion.
Childhood, personal, and historic, intergenerational trauma is pervasive among our participants, particularly those who self-identify as Indigenous. Trauma overwhelms an individual’s and a community’s ability to cope. It forces fight, flight, or freeze responses that help protect individual and community survival.
Bissell Centre will practice harm reduction by involving a range of support services and strategies to enhance the knowledge, skills, resources, and supports for individuals, families, and communities to be safer and healthier.
Harm reduction aims to keep people safe and minimize death, disease, and injury from high-risk behaviour, especially psychoactive substance use. This approach recognizes that this behaviour may continue, despite individual knowledge about risks.
Bissell Centre will ensure staff work in an anti-oppressive way to ensure participants and colleagues experience equity in our interactions and service delivery. Each staff member has a responsibility to antioppressive engagement.
Bissell Centre will support individuals and families in a manner consistent with the values of restorative justice. Restorative justice strives to repair harm and restore relationships by focusing on the impact on, and wellbeing of, the victim, offenders, and the larger community.
Bissell Centre will make decisions based on evidence-based practice and produces evidence-based program evaluation to guide decision-making and program supports.
Evidence-based practice acknowledges the importance of robust research, analysis, participant feedback, and demonstrated outcomes to be effective.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Bissell Centre will be informed about the nature of FASD and the needs of those with FASD to help them be part of the community.
FASD is prevalent among Bissell participants and affects each person differently. It happens when a fetus is exposed to alcohol in utero.
“The staff just opened their arms to us and brought us in. That’s when I started feeling welcome and accepted in our community.”
Corenda, Mother of Five
Toward a Poverty-Free Community
Our Strategic Framework [PDF] guides Bissell Centre’s efforts to address the inequities present in our society and ensure that every Edmontonian has an equal opportunity to thrive, prosper and contribute to their community.
It is underscored by clear strategies that support our vision of a city without poverty, and is grounded in the experiences and stories of the people we serve.
But we cannot accomplish our vision of a Poverty-Free Community alone; the elimination of poverty cannot be accomplished by a single individual or group—it will take a commitment from the entire community.
We invite you to join us in our mission to empower people to move from poverty to cultural, social and economic prosperity.