Monday night the Board of Governors of Bissell Centre approved our 2013-2014 Business Plan. It will soon be published to our website, but in the meantime I want to share with you some of the accomplishments Bissell Centre achieved in its first year of a five year strategic plan.
More Capacity to Help the Homeless
Bissell Centre received funding from Homeward Trust to double our work in our Homeless to Homes program (Housing First), which increases our capacity to house 160 chronically homeless, up from 80 in the previous year.
Won Crisis Diversion Contract
Late in the year we were successful in our bid to design and launch a 24/7/365 program we have named 24/7 Mobile Assistance Program. Our staff will work closely with emergency services and first responders to increase support and access to community and government-based services that can address the underlying root causes of vulnerability (e.g. lack of housing, addictions, mental/physical illness, income support, etc.) and decrease the dependency on crisis/emergency services. A key goal of the program is to assist Edmonton’s homeless population in finding safe, affordable, and stable housing with the supports they need to maintain it. It’s supported by Homeward Trust and Reach Edmonton.
Designed and Launched Jobs First
We were successful in obtaining a development grant from the Catherine Donnelly Foundation (Ontario) to design and prototype Jobs First, an intensive one-to-one employment program aimed at Housing First clients as well as homeless individuals not housed through Housing First. This pilot will continue into our new fiscal year.
Expanded Family Support Hours of Service
Significant one-time funding was obtained from the City of Edmonton to assist us in expanding the hours of our Family Support program to mirror the expanded hours of our Drop-in Centre, which were also fully rolled out in 2012-2013 thanks to support from the Robert E. Tegler Trust, the Stollery Charitable Foundation, and the Edmonton Community Foundation.
Thrift Shoppe is Profitable
The operations of our Thrift Shoppe were reviewed and adjusted, resulting in improved revenues and cost management, resulting in sufficient revenues to pay for its own operation and fund our Community Closet which provides free clothing to several thousand individuals and families each year.
Transformation of Moonlight Bay Centre
Work began to reinvent Moonlight Bay Centre from a traditional camp to a retreat centre focused on individual, organizational and community transformation. This social enterprise will be launched soon and revenues will be used to help fund summer camps and experiences for low income families.
Inner City Victim Services Grows
This is a successful Bissell Centre–Boyle Street Community Services partnership, which added a staff person, thanks to funding from Alberta’s Solicitor General. This program is unique to Canada and a important service to low income victims of crimes, mostly violent crimes.
Employment Services Exceeds Expectations
Our Employment Services’ Casual Labour program continued to exceed funder benchmarks, resulting in a commitment by the Alberta Government to provide additional funding in 2013-2104. The program also tested the feasibility of a social enterprise, Bissell Centre Community Movers, a niche moving service. The results will see a full scale business plan developed in 2013-2014.
Website/Blog and Social Media Success
Bissell Centre launched this website/blog and became active on Twitter and Facebook. Our website has had more than 150,000 page views by 50,000 visitors since it was launched in January 2012. Twitter followers grew from zero to 2150, and Facebook “Likes” reached 570 in the same time-frame. As well we launched our online giving guide and most recently our Moonlight Bay Centre website.
The above are just a few of the highlights of the 2012-2013 year. I should point out that Bissell Centre is ending the 2012-2013 year with a small surplus for the second year in a row. This is especially important after three previous years of deficits which required dipping into our savings to maintain services. Our success in the last two years is due to a combination of increased donations and revenues, some restructuring, and stellar cost management.