VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A local group that aims to help people overdosing on the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is asking for the public’s help as it makes a renewed push for some extra funds through a GoFundMe campaign.
Sarah Blyth, who speaks for the Overdose Prevention Society, says the group is provincially funded and has an annual operating budget of about $500,000 but it’s hoping to purchase some more items that aren’t covered by that money. She explains the money provided by Victoria doesn’t cover things for “wellness” purposes.
“It’s going to be a hot summer. So, just having ice cream or freezies for people just to cool down, especially in the Downtown Eastside, just anything extra really goes a long way. Tea, iced tea — just extras for people, especially people who are witnessing death. We’ve had four people that we’ve known in the community who’ve died in the past month and people are really feeling it in different ways.”
Blyth says the money would also help volunteers working with the society.
She adds as the number of people dying from overdose continues to rise, there is a push to put up a memorial and some of the funding would also go towards that.
“All these kinds of things make it a little easier to deal with it. Even animals [as] a lot of people on the Downtown Eastside have pets, sometimes their pets have to go the hospital and they can’t afford it right at the time so we do what we can to help people in different ways. This is just a way that we have a little bit of a fund to help people with things that they might need.”
The society is located at 62 East Hastings and Blyth says that block alone as some of the highest population of homeless people in the area.
It’s been more than two years since the opioid overdose crisis was deemed a public health emergency in this province by the former Liberal government. Since then, the numbers have fluctuated but BC ended 2017 with a record number of deaths and statistics so far this year show no signs of those figures dropping.