Volunteer training for the 2020 National Coordinated Point-in-Time Homeless Count

On the night of March 11, 2020, and throughout the following day, the Community Social Planning Council, with support from the Capital Regional District, the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and many volunteers, will conduct the bi-annual Point-in-Time (PiT) Homeless Count and Survey.

Over a 24 hour period, trained volunteers will count and survey individuals who are staying in shelters, short-term housing, and sleeping rough (without shelter). Our PiT Count survey will provide a “snapshot” of homelessness in the region and important information that improves our understanding of the needs and circumstances of the people who are affected by homelessness in our community.

PiT Count 2020 – General Info sheet

PiT Count Poster for Circulation

Volunteers needed: 

Training sessions will be held on weekend and weekday evenings.

For a direct link to volunteer registrations and to sign up for a training session click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FNVTHKW.

Trauma-Informed Practice: A Day with Brian Dean Williams

“Being able to dream is recovery on its own.”  These are words that glued to me.

In a field often associated with best care practices, do’s and don’ts, and “always been done this way” doctrines, it is easy to detach from the basic healing properties of our own profound and human selves. In an era of heightened chatter, heaviness and reactivity, it is often easier to take the role of commuter rather than conductor, and while riding along can give us a sense of letting go, it is often easy to forget where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going.

As a response to these characteristics and the barriers they can place on front line workers, Brian Dean Williams, a therapist, workshop leader, and meditation facilitator shared with us a variety of multi-functional practices, internal recognitions and mindful connections back to the self throughout his 2-day training on Trauma-Informed Practice. Teaching us that by successfully connecting with ourselves we can effectively connect back to the people we help.

On the first day of this 2-day training series, we explored Trauma-Informed Practice: Co-creating Safety and Choice for Survivors, the following are 3 of my major learnings from the first day of this CAEH training opportunity:


Understanding Trauma

Trauma is a working definition. As stated in the training, trauma is “a socially constructed disintegration of our ability to connect with our physical, mental, interpersonal, and emotional world. A result of an adverse event or events that interrupt our ability to cope, at a neurobiological and interpersonal level.” For many, especially in cases of colonization, displacement or removal from family and tradition; trauma can be a shared experience of disconnection from self, while healing is the entity of re-connection.

“Trauma-informed care encourages support and treatment to the whole person, rather than focus on only treating individual symptoms or specific behaviors.”


The Power of Choice

During our training, we were presented with five principles of Trauma-Informed Practice (find in the CAEH Training 5 Day 1 Trauma Informed Care PowerPoint), with Choice, Collaboration, and Connection as one of them. This principle stood out to me as it informs front line staff that despite our best intentions, all processes should include a foundation of autonomy and personal control for those we assist.  Trauma-Informed Practice provides a collaborative approach to client services by integrating feedback and customization. As stated by Brian, by leveling power relationships and, “being transparent about areas where we can’t,” we can carefully create an environment of trust and respect.  


Limitations of TIP? Looking past TIP

While Trauma-Informed Practice and Care can provide a client with trust, control and safety, it has often been criticized for only treating half of the equation (the individual), while leaving out the broken systems, policies and practices that harbor environments of trauma in the first place. “There is a risk of focusing on the treatment of pathology (trauma), rather than fostering the possibility (well-being). Everyone wants to be happy not just have less misery.”


If the answer is in healing our collective environment and focusing less on trauma itself, then where do we move on from here?


A simple answer to this question would not give justice to our very unsimple reality. However, working toward new paradigms of society and healing can help. Brian’s final teachings of the day poked at the idea of collective change and surfaced the opportunity of Healing Centered Practice.

From this discussion, the quote, “being able to dream is recovery on its own,” stood out to me. For me, dreams signify hope and each of our birthrights to hope. These words offered me permission to envision my dream society as one where every single individual is given the opportunity to live each day thinking past their basic means of survival.


A society that can dream is a society I hope we can all one day be a part of.


Below is the video playlist from day-1 of Brian Dean Williams Trauma-Informed Practice: Co-creating Safety and Choice for Survivor’s training session.


Mindfulness as “We Care”: A Day with Brian Dean Williams

On February 8, 2019 I was lucky to be among about 30 colleagues in the work to end homelessness in Greater Victoria who spend the day with Brian Dean Williams learning about the brain, mindfulness, our selves, and how to best support each other. This was the second of a 2-day training Brian delivered in the community as part of the local CAEH Training series sponsored by the Government of Canada and coordinated by the CRD and the Coalition, with the assistance of a community steering committee.

As someone who has experience work-related burnout before, and who used mindfulness in my long recovery, I was excited to learn more. I’ve also, over the past few years, become wary of the terms “burnout” and “self-care,” as it seems they have become commodified, Instagram-able, and somewhat empty words. When Brian talked about moving our focus from “self-care” to “we care,” I knew I had found someone who was speaking to the kind of work that keeps us filled up and moving forward.

Most people who work in the social services sector do so because we genuinely care about other people. The less we feel able to make a real difference for the people we serve, and the less power we feel in our day-to-day jobs, the less satisfaction we feel in the work, and the more we edge towards emotional exhaustion.

When you throw in a big dose of trauma (which CAEH Training 5 Day 1 Trauma Informed Care talking about) – whether vicariously through client’s shared stories, or personally experienced in the course of life and work – it’s a wonder many of us last as long as we do in this sector. What Brian’s reframing of self-care allows is another avenue to satisfaction: taking care of each other as a way to take care of ourselves.

As you click through Brian’s Presentation and watch the video playlist (below), you’ll see there was much much more to the day than I’ve shared here. We shared in both sitting and walking mindfulness meditation. We talked about ways to bring mindfulness into our daily lives to keep from “flipping our lids.” And we got to know each other in the room as compassionate beings who can hear and share each other’s needs in a way that makes a difference.

And that, it seems, may be the ultimate self-care – listening to another in a way that makes a difference for them, and in so doing fulfilling our own need to contribute and co-creating a supportive, human, and humane work environment.

CAEH Training: Housing First for Women

NOTE: Our thanks to Hilary Marks for her report on this workshop, and for all of her work to end homelessness in Greater Victoria.

If you are interested in attending a Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness community training session, see details on the upcoming topics and dates on our website.

Housing First for Women and their children: A participant’s report

I attended a workshop put on by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and the Coalition to End Homelessness, in partnership with the CRD and funded by the Government of Canada.  Most of the people in the room were known to each other, by either working together, or sharing resources and being front line workers.

The territory acknowledgement from what I could hear was beautiful.  “Smiles are free” and “don’t be afraid.” She sang and said a beautiful prayer for everyone.

The question was poised, “what do you want out of the training?”

I want an “AHA moment.”

The presenters Nicole Cortese and Hope Hamerston, both of whom I met at the CAEH 2018 conference in Hamilton, start the discussion around Housing First. What kinds of things are involved with Housing First and what does it mean?  They talk about all the ways women experience homelessness and how they survive.  They spoke about the analogy of “the woman is the driver” and we [people working in the homelessness sector] are the navigators.  The women are the experts on their needs.  Housing was definitely the basic human right but that still does not mean that everyone has one.  We assist the women on their journey when they gain Housing First.  Nicole and Hope spoke about programs and Housing First core principles.  There was some discussion about what things do not facilitate a choice, like paying the rent every month.  They described the relationship of the third party to help the relationship of Landlord/tenant and tenant/support worker. To help facilitate some ground work and rules that creates boundaries and healthy goals.

There is an intersectionality that must happen with all ministries that are involved in solving homelessness and poverty for women and children.

The safety of women and children is paramount and trauma finally makes its way into the conversation.  VAW (Violence against Women) was in the conversation.

The space of the workshop was beautiful, the food was good, but the sound system was not geared for some of us with hearing impairments.  A lot of the information was repetitive.  It was a little dry and lacked new and exciting ways that we could address women’s and children’s issues of homelessness.  Lots more trauma informed peer support ideas would be beneficial.

One good idea that came up was having municipalities take on an issue.  (Seeing as we have 13 municipalities), seniors, youth, veterans.  (Loved the look on Nicole and Hope’s face when we told them we had 13 municipalities.  With that many city councilors, mayors, and city office workers, we could do a lot!  That is a lot of money!)

We spoke of the role of pets in peoples’ lives, and how beneficial it is and how those same pets can be barriers to housing.

The information was full and accurate.  I enjoyed connecting with Nicole and Hope and I am grateful that I got to experience the workshop, but I never got the AHA moment.

Thank you,

Hilary Marks


CAEH Trainings

The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH), funded by the Government of Canada and in partnership with the Coalition and the CRD, is offering free training in Victoria from October 2018 through February 2019. Topics for training were identified through a survey of Coalition membership, and all community members interested in learning about ending homelessness in Greater Victoria are welcome to attend.

Each day will run from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm, and will include breakfast, two snack breaks and lunch. Registration is required.


Harm Reduction in a Housing First Context

  • Friday, October 5 (8:30 am – 4:00 pm)
  • Trainer Kale Hayes
  • Thank you to those who attended
  • Presentation details coming soon

Housing First for Women

Housing First and Outreach

Housing First and Youth/LGBTQ2S Inclusion

Trauma-Informed Care and Burnout Prevention

Housing First in an Indigenous Context

  • Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26 (8:30 am – 4:00 pm)
  • Trainer Betty Edel.
  • Local Indigenous teachings and support by Respected Elder Shirley Alphonse, T’sou-ke Nation.
  • Thank you to those who attended
  • Download the presentation: