Bissell Centre holds its 102nd Annual General Meeting!

On Thursday, July 27th, Bissell Centre held its 102nd Annual General Meeting where discussions centered on the 2012-2013 Annual Report, the CEO Report, the new pilot program 24/7 MAP, and upcoming initiatives for the organization. Attendance included Homeward Trust, REACH Edmonton, The City of Edmonton, representatives from the Edmonton United Church Presbytery, Bissell Centre CEO Mark Holmgren, plus Board Members and Bissell Centre staff.  102nd Bissell Centre AGM June 27th, 2013 Read More…

The Faces of Homelessness, Beyond Stereotypes

From the website –

“Dutch photographer  Jan Banning’s  interest in social and political subjects and his skill as a portrait photographer seemed the perfect fit for a story on the American South’s homeless population.

faces of homelessIn 2010, Banning was invited to be an artist-in-residence at the  701 Center for Contemporary Art  in Columbia, S.C., where they suggested he focus on homelessness for a photography series.

Our new 24/7 Mobile Assistance Program Announced Today!

24-7 MAP logo final

24/7 Mobile Assistance Program (24/7 MAP) is a pilot program that actively addresses the underlying causes of vulnerability. These causes often include lack of housing, addictions and physical/mental illness, amongst a variety of other difficulties that Edmonton’s homeless population faces. Supported by REACH Edmonton and Homeward Trust, 24/7 MAP will be benefitting our homeless population and the City of Edmonton by decreasing dependency on emergency services while increasing access to necessary supports.

Our Commitment to the Community

It’s an unfortunate reality that when homeless members of our population need immediate help, they often have nowhere to turn and can’t access appropriate support services. If an issue isn’t addressed quickly and effectively it can often snowball and create undue costs:

–          Housing homeless citizens in shelters can cost $1,932 per month.

–          An individual in jail for a month costs $4,333.

–          A hospital bed can cost $10,900 per month.

By working closely with 211 Edmonton (a program of The Support Network) and first responders, 24/7 MAP assists in crisis situations and provides assertive support and referrals for the most vulnerable members of our population. This approach will more effectively address the needs of individuals and relieve the costs that come with emergency medical, police and judicial services.

Real Solutions for Crisis Situations

When a homeless individual is in need of assistance, but the nature of their crisis isn’t appropriate for EPS or EMS involvement, the 24/7 MAP team intervenes. The team consists of multi-disciplinary staff that can address diverse needs through assertive engagement and who will bring resolution to the situation that has prompted their involvement.

Once the 24/7 MAP team has addressed the immediate situation they will then be able to work with the individual to develop a support and referral plan. The most important element of the plan is helping the individual find housing; the team has been funded to provide 80 housing placements annually. Once housed, we’re able to provide Follow up Support, and assist in accessing any resources necessary.



Income Gap Keeps Growing

A picture is worth a thousand words.

The above graph is from “Income, Wealth, and Inequality” – published February 2103 by Citizens for Public Justice. The narrative below is taken in full from a Fact Sheet published by the CPJ. You can download the full report HERE. You can also download other fact sheets HERE.

* * *

Over the past 30 years, the gap between Canada’s highest and lowest earning families has  grown. On average, the highest earning 20% of Canadian families saw their after-tax incomes  increase by 36.9% during this period, while “the average after-tax incomes of the lowest 20% rose by 20.3%”  (Statistics Canada, 2010 as cited in Citizens for Public Justice, 2013, p. 13).

In contrast to the increasing wages of  CEOs, middle-income positions are becoming rare and low-wage sectors now employ 25% of the population, paying  approximately $13.33/hour in 2012 (Yalnizyan, 2011 as cited by Citizens for Public Justice, 2013, p. 10). According to  Yalnizyan, this group of workers also experienced the largest decrease in hourly wages (an average of 2.25%) between  2009 and 2011 (as cited by Citizens for Public Justice, 2013, p. 12).

The volatility of wages for this earning group  increases their household debt levels and leads to greater wealth inequality. Between 1984 and 2005, households in  the lowest 10% experienced a decrease in wealth or assets from -$2100 to -$9600, (Citizens for Public Justice, 2013,p. 15). This group and other households making less than $50,000 are also six times more likely to have a high debt  service ratio (Hurst, 2011 as cited by Citizens for Public Justice, 2013, p.17). As this group struggles with credit debt,  an inability to accumulate assets and high debt servicing costs, the top 10% of the population hold 14% of total wealth  (Canadian Business, 2012 as cited by Citizens for Public Justice, 2013, p.15). Read More…

Bissell Centre in Desperate Need of Steel-Toe Boots to Help People Find Work!

Bissell Centre is urging the public to help… ensuring those in need can continue to receive job opportunities that require safety equipment. As construction season ramps up in our city, Bissell Centre is in great need of 200 pairs of new and gently used men’s steel-toe boots, size 9 – 12 to ensure low income individuals looking for work are able to get jobs and work safely.


Guided by the vision of eliminating poverty in our community, Bissell Centre works with others to empower people to move from poverty to prosperity. “Employment Services plays a key role in connecting Edmonton’s impoverished population with meaningful work placements,” says Mark Holmgren, CEO Bissell Centre. “Many placements require basic safety equipment, which Bissell Centre normally provides, but currently there are no steel-toe boots available for program participants.”

We are asking the community-minded citizens of Edmonton to donate CSA approved steel-toe boots to us at 10527 96 Street, or our Thrift Shoppe Sorting Centre at 8818 118 Ave.

OR you can donate to buy a pair and get a tax receipt using our donations page.

Bissell Centre’s no-fee job placement service, its Casual Labour program, helps the community by connecting employers and workers, enabling placements to occur seven days a week. In 2012 the program saw remarkable success in filling over 14,000 placements, putting $1M into the hands of the less fortunate community. Since many of the placements are helping with concrete labour, roofing installation, and construction labour, steel-toe boots are often a necessity to being able to assist our impoverished population in finding employment and helping them move out of poverty.

In addition to temporary placements Bissell Centre provides worker training; this includes work preparedness programs, pre-employment training, safety training, employment counseling, resume building and life skills training.

For more information about Bissell Centre Employment Services please contact Mark Bubel, Employment Services Manager at 780-423-2285 ext 139.   

Reg Canadian Charity · 118810829RR0001