Houselessness and Injuries: Using the Data to Improve our Services

At Bissell Centre, our mission is to end poverty and houselessness in the community. In order to achieve this we need to fully understand what barriers people experience receiving care, the stigma they are forced to wear, what injuries are they suffering with and how we can best build programs to support individuals while they work their way out of houselessness and poverty.

Injuries can happen to anyone, at any time, creating new obstacles to daily living and changes in circumstances. What if you’re already facing barriers and obstacles to prosperous daily living? What if new injuries will further decrease your chances of leaving poverty and improving your circumstances?

The Injury Prevention Centre gathered information from 2019 & 2020 to look at more than 11,600 emergency room visits. This report, Houselessness and Injuries in Alberta: 2019-2020, dives into what injuries are sustained and shows us which injuries are preventable. While no one can prepare and prevent all injuries, we can look at the data to determine priorities in programming.

One thing the data makes clear is that Housing First and harm reduction practices would prevent more than half of these injuries. We need to ensure we’re communicating this to the public, so that we can all work towards a community where people are safe no matter their circumstances.

We invite you to read the report below to learn more and see the data for yourself.

Cover of IPC Report on Houselessness and Injuries

CEO Announcement: Renovations Underway!

I am excited to announce that renovations to our downtown facility are underway with a grand re-opening scheduled for February 2018.

Our newly, upgraded space will enable more people to connect with the essential resources they need to break free from the cycle of poverty and find hope for the future.

Our team is ecstatic to be able to take this important step further towards our vision of eliminating poverty in our community.

In 2014, we conducted a major review of our Drop-in Centre with the intention of improving and expanding our services to those who come to us for assistance. The report revealed that we needed to re-imagine our space to better connect participants with the support services they need and to adopt a new service delivery model that further aligns to our vision and mission.

This means that people can, not only access the basic items they need like clothing and showers, but also be connected to other services that allow them to move out of poverty and achieve prosperity in their lives.

I can’t wait for the larger space. It will be easier for me to use the showers, bathrooms, and laundry. It’s going to be good! – Sam, Bissell Centre Participant.


The new centre will significantly improve people’s ability to access housing supports, employment opportunities, skills training, and vital programs and services.

I’m also happy to inform you that we are partnering with The Mustard Seed as they have graciously freed up space so that our team can continue to offer drop in services in their facility during the renovations.

For approximately 14 weeks we will continue to provide daily meals, hygiene and clothing items, and recreation programming there while we renovate the interior of our building.  Our Employment Services and Casual Labour will remain operating out of Bissell Centre’s facilities.

To learn more, please check out our Renovations Plan.

We look forward to updating you as the project develops.


Gary St. Amand
CEO, Bissell Centre

Edmonton’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness: Year 4 Updates Announced

Bissell Centre hosted a media conference on Thursday, April 25th where Year 4 updates were released by The Edmonton Homeless Commission regarding Edmonton’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, Homeless Commission Chair Hal Danchilla, and Homeward Trust CEO Susan McGee announced the achievements that show real progress is being made towards their goals.
Mayor Mandel congratulated all the partners involved with the effort to end homelessness in Edmonton but stressed that there is still work to be done to house the over 2,100 people that are still homeless in the city.

Here are some of the Year 4 updates:

  • 2,325 Edmontonians previously homeless now have a home.
  • 1,664 permanent homes have been secured for the 2,325 homeless with the vast majority of these homes being private rental market in buildings across the city.
  • The October 2012 Homeless Count found 2,147 homeless Edmontonians, which is 29% fewer than the 2008 count.

The Edmonton Homeless Commission recognizes that there are challenges ahead moving into Year 5 of the plan to end homelessness. Some of the challenges outlined are:

  • The need for capital funding to build permanent supportive housing for people with intensive needs.
  • The tightening of the rental market in Edmonton as vacancy rates drop and rents rise.
  • Limited space for new clients due to The Housing First teams working at full capacity.
  • A greater focus is needed on prevention to reduce the numbers of people falling in to homelessness.

To learn more about The City of Edmonton’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness or the Year 4 Update, please visit or call Hal Danchilla, Chair, Edmonton Homeless Commission at 780.975.4462.

Tamarack’s Communities Collaborating Institute is Coming to Edmonton

As a community organization that is working collaboratively, we want you to know about an exciting learning opportunity that we at Bissell Centre are helping to bring to Edmonton this Fall.   We are working with the Tamarack Institute to sponsor the 2013 Communities Collaborating Institute: Accelerating Impact, which is being held October 7th – 11th, 2013.

Tamarack’s Communities Collaborating Institute is Canada’s signature, learning event for collective impact professionals.   The 2013 CCI: Accelerating Impact is geared specifically for those wanting to strengthen their capacity to create large-scale, collective impact in communities – linked to provincial/state or national agendas. I have attended two CCIs myself and highly recommend you consider attending.

Join Adam Kahane, Tom Kelly, Stephen Huddart, Ratna Omidvar, Catherine Twinn, Liz Weaver, Mark Cabaj, and me for this unprecedented leadership event.   Inspired by the insights and perspectives of celebrated thought-leaders, it is an opportunity to rejuvenate and strengthen your ability to engage and mobilize across sectors to advance a common community agenda for transformation.   Learn more about the event’s evolving list of Thought-Leaders online here.

Registration officially opens today, Tuesday March 19th 2013.   This event has been over-subscribed each of the past six years and we expect the same this year in Edmonton, Alberta.

  • Date: October 7 – 11, 2013
  • Location: Edmonton, Alberta
  • Venue: Radisson Edmonton South Hotel
  • More information & registration:

Change leaders need both ideas and techniques.   The 2013 CCI: Accelerating Impact promises to be a dynamic peer learning opportunity with a special focus on transformative techniques for uniting diverse opinions into a common agenda for social change. These include: Scenario Planning, Change Labs, Working Effectively with Complexity, Developmental Evaluation, Collaborative Governance Community Conversations and more.

Learn how you and your organization can benefit from this amazing learning opportunity.   Special reduced rates are available for two or more participants from a community, organization or network who agree to attend together.

I hope to see you at the 2013 CCI this Fall in Edmonton.

Mark Holmgren, CEO
Bissell Centre

Our Strategic Touchstone, 2012-2017

Bissell Centre’s long-term strategy is its vision, which is to eliminate poverty in our community.   For many, such a vision might be brushed off as “pie in the sky” ambition or perhaps as an expression of hope by caring, yet unrealistic, people.   Will poverty ever become eradicated from our community? Likely not, but what is the alternative vision then?
Shall we just talk about decreasing the incidence of poverty, set goals to lower the number of people living in poverty by 10%, 20% or some other “doable” but arbitrary number? Would we celebrate success knowing such goals, in effect, suggest we are concerned with a minority of those who are poor?   Would we really be satisfied if our efforts only helped one in ten?

Bissell Centre’s decision to adopt this vision in 2011 is about a call to action for our organization to lead and act in ways that engage governments, businesses, labor, funders, associations, other non-profits, and individuals from all walks of life to come together to create and sustain the range and depth of change required to help people avoid or rise up out of poverty.

Our vision is also a call to change our own organization, where required, to ensure everything we do is vision-focused, whether in the direct delivery of our various programs, the partnerships we undertake across sectors, our relationships with funders and donors, or how we behave in community.  

Our vision is a calling to focus our attention not only on traditional human service programs but also on actions that promote social justice, advocate for basic human rights, and enlist others to join together to build a stronger, more connected community. A community that is economically and socially viable for all citizens; a community that takes responsibility for each hungry child, each homeless person, each victim of abuse and violence; a community that is not willing to accept poverty and homelessness as tolerable or defensible.

Bissell Centre is not alone in this vision.   Our intent is aligned with the social justice emphasis of our United Church founders (not to mention the faith community in general), with governments’ plans and actions to eliminate homelessness, with the changing emphasis of funders like United Way, with the corporate social responsibility strategies of businesses, and with the hundreds of donors who look to us for leadership in making life better for the poor and disenfranchised. We see other non-profit organizations sharing in this vision, too, many of whom we already partner with, and even more that we need to reach out to and explore new and better ways of working together.

There will be no chance of achieving our vision and little chance of making significant progress if our community continues to work in disparate and fragmented ways. Our mission stresses “working with others.”

We will see more failures than successes if our strategies attempt to lay blame and ostracize others for the problems in our communities.   The case to change a social policy, a program or service, or how an organization is structured or funded does not need to be discussed or enacted within a context of culpability for what’s not working, but rather should be addressed around an alignment of common intent and goodwill.

At Bissell Centre, we believe in the power of caring. We believe that individuals can make a difference in their own lives and in our community. To achieve our vision, it must become the vision of many and that is at the heart of the work ahead: to partner with others to build, nurture, and sustain a movement to end poverty and homelessness in our community.

The vision to eliminate poverty necessarily means Bissell Centre will have to undertake numerous roles in our community – leader, participant, advocate, partner, mentor, learner, innovator, and risk taker.   It also means that such an ambitious vision demands an equally ambitious, super ordinate strategy, which is this: to be a leader in the development of a community-wide movement to eliminate poverty and homelessness.

Such a strategy is not only about achieving BIG CHANGE in our community, it also calls our own organization to undergo significant change in how we see and live our role in community. While we continue to provide a range and depth of services to those most vulnerable in our community, we must become a catalyst for community synergy and action to overcome poverty and homelessness.

Please take a bit of time to view our strategic intent over the next five years. If you have any questions, ask us. If you want to help, join us. There is a whole lot to do.

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