Anna’s Story

“I try my best.   Everything I do is for my kids.   And to look after my kids, I have to look after myself.”

Anna’s* face lights up when she talks about the plans she has for her family’s future.   A proud, young, single mother and provider for four (three kids and a younger brother), she came to Bissell Centre in September looking for help supporting her young family.    

 The rising financial burdens of life in Edmonton meant that Anna was looking for resources to improve her family’s wellbeing.   Last fall, she was referred to Bissell Centre by a friend who had participated in our Parenting Plus Program – a free, weekly service for parents like Anna to learn parenting skills, share stories and gain vital social supports.  

Thanks to Bissell Centre’s network of services, her children were able to attend our free child care and Anna was able to join Parenting Plus herself.

“My baby’s face lights up whenever she sees the staff.   It’s her favorite daycare.”

Anna was ready for a better job.   To raise her family, she has to rely on income supports that are shrinking in value.   The Women’s Pre-Employment Program was created to give women the skills to earn a decent living.   It wasn’t long before Anna decided to join and improve her family’s livelihood.

“I had worked in trades for four months, but had to give up once I became pregnant.”

Since completing her job skills training at Bissell, Anna has signed up for a professional 17-week course for women in trades.   With looming labour shortages, she is in an excellent position to earn a better income for herself and best-of-all, her children.

Because of your support, families like Anna’s can look forward to a better future.  

About our donors, Anna says, “I think that it’s really good what you’ve done.   You’re really generous, especially to people that you don’t know.”

With compassion and training, families can move from daily hardship to prosperity.  

Thank-you for providing new beginnings for families across the community.  

*Names have been changed to protect family privacy.

Story taken from our most recent newletter.

The Education and Prevention of FASD

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a prevalent issue in our society that needs to be talked about.   Awareness, education, and prevention, are key to eliminating this 100% preventable lifelong brain disability.   Through the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum of Services (FASS) at Bissell Centre we offer presentations to various groups wanting to learn more about this invisible disability.

Together we must put forth a clear message that no alcohol is best during pregnancy.  As a community I believe it is our responsibility to work together to not only raise awareness but to provide supports to pregnant women struggling with addiction and also to those who are currently living with the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure.   Even by talking to our friends and families we can help to start these much needed discussions and start to break down the stereotypes, misconceptions, and stigma associated with alcohol, pregnancy, and FASD.

Prior to her current role as FASD Community Educator, Alaina Thursby worked as a Parent Child Advocate with the FASS team at Bissell Centre, providing intensive support to at-risk pregnant women struggling with addiction. Alaina brings this experience to the community education piece and would be happy to share her thoughts on FASD, prevention, and support based on these experiences.

Our FASD community presentations are offered at no cost for Edmonton and surrounding areas and can be tailored to your group. Also, it is expected that the education will take place in a venue supplied by the group requesting the presentation.

The Ticket Out Of Poverty

As the cost of living continues to increase, access to transportation is an ongoing concern to many of those we help.  As a recipient agency of the City of Edmonton’s Donate-a-Ride program, we are able to provide free transit tickets – helping people return to school, obtain gainful employment, prevent home eviction and attend often life-saving, medical appointments.

Recently, a young man came to Bissell Centre in desperate need of help to prevent being evicted from his home – picking bottles for the bus fare he needed to make it here. Meeting with one of our workers, we were able to connect him to Bissell services for resume writing and casual labour, as well as make him an appointment with Alberta Employment and Immigration to discuss his desire to return to school. All that was missing was the means to return home and attend his appointment for a chance at school and work. Through Donate-a-Ride, Bissell Centre was able to give the young man five tickets – one to go home, two for his appointment and two more for work.

By supporting Bissell Centre with bus tickets, this young man was able to receive funds to prevent his eviction, secure funding to return to school at NorQuest and obtain work through our Casual Labour  Program to pay for food and transportation. Imagine – five bus tickets were all it took to prevent homelessness and secure a future.

“Thank you Bissell Centre, without your help with bus tickets I would never be able to keep all of my doctor’s appointment to stay alive.”  

“Without ID I couldn’t work. Without bus fare I couldn’t get my ID. Thank you for opening your hearts and the 2 tickets. I got a job now.”  

Facts about the Provincial Budget

Here are some of the highlights of the recently announced Provincial Budget. Bissell Centre sees some encouraging numbers in this budget related to strengthening the health and well being of citizens as well as ensuring that there is appropriate support of vulnerable people. The changes to AISH are very encouraging, though more progress is required with Alberta Work benefits.

Bissell Centre also values the analysis provided by the Edmonton Social Planning Council.

Health and Wellness

  • 7.9% increase in operating funding for Health and Wellness to $15.9 billion.
  • 6% increase to Alberta Health Services’ base operating funding to $10.2 billion.
  • $267 million to support staffing and operating costs of South Calgary Health Campus and Edmonton Clinic South.
  • $125 million in each of the next three years to support strategic health investments, including family care clinics, additional addictions and mental health services, home care, and enhanced rehabilitation programs.

Benefits and Supports to Vulnerable Albertans

  • Maximum monthly income benefit rises by $400, effective April 1, for clients of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program, and monthly income exemptions will double. The program also provides employment income exemptions to clients and their spouses, enabling them to retain a portion of their earnings. The thresholds for the employment income exemptions will double, from $400 to $800 per month for single AISH clients and from $975 to $1,950 per month for AISH clients with cohabiting partners or dependent children. Doubling the employment income exemptions for AISH clients will also come into effect April 1. About 17 per cent of AISH clients and/or their cohabitating partners (more than 7,500 households) report some form of employment income.
  • Income support rates increase by an average of 5%, the first rate increase since November 1, 2008.
  • Child care subsidy program enhanced to include full subsidy for families with a household income of $50,000 or less.
  • 6.6% funding increase for Alberta Seniors Benefit to $351 million.
  • Wage increases for contracted agency employees providing services to Albertans with developmental disabilities as well as vulnerable children, youth and families.
  • 12.3% funding increase for child intervention to a total of $682 million to provide for higher caseloads and increased case complexity, wages for agency staff, and foster care  support.

Helping Municipalities Serve Albertans

  • More than $2 billion in capital and direct operating support to municipalities in 2012-13, mostly through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative and infrastructure grants through the Capital Plan. Funding includes nearly $273 million in direct operating support for Family and Community Support Services, policing, and other services.
  • $14 million for the Safe Communities Innovation Fund to support crime prevention pilot projects and development of municipal, regional and Aboriginal community crime reduction and prevention plans.
  • 90 new RCMP officers and 55 new sheriffs by 2013-14.
  • 180 new correctional peace officers and other staff for the new remand centre in Edmonton.
  • $110 million to provide outreach support services as well as housing for another 1,800 homeless Albertans, and more than 3,100 spaces in emergency and transitional shelters.

Public Infrastructure
Over the next three years, $16.5 billion will be allocated to public infrastructure to support Albertans’ quality of life, including:

  • $5.6 billion in combined total support for municipal infrastructure over three years, including $2.8 billion from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI),
  • $2.6 billion for health facilities and equipment.
  • $300 million for housing programs including social housing, affordable housing and Homelessness Prevention Initiative.
  • $25 million in each of the next three years for the Affordable Supportive Living Initiative for seniors’ housing.

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