Salvation Army Harbour Light Stabilization - The Bridge to Addictions Treatment

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Salvation Army Harbour Light Stabilization - The Bridge to Addictions Treatment

Vancouver, CanadaVancouver, Canada
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Salvation Army Harbour Light’s Stabilization bridges the gap after detox for clients needing safe supportive structure, waiting for addictions Treatment.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Clients who access Stabilization are homeless, desperate, and stuck in the cycle of addiction. Addiction Treatment waiting lists are 2-8 weeks long. Without our program, clients complete detox and have nowhere to go that provides a safe and supportive recovery environment while they await Treatment. These clients have a significantly lower chance of successfully reaching Treatment without the structure and support of our Stabilization program. Without Stabilization, there is a significant gap in care that perpetuates the repeated cycle of substance abuse, violence, mental and physical crisis and homelessness. Stabilization is currently available to any male in need across B.C.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Stabilization provides a continuum of care, which helps clients maintain stability, and support their long term goals providing; shelter, group and individual therapy, and structured support with their immediate and future needs. The latter allows us to offer stability, empowerment and encouragement clients need to continue towards positive growth. Stabilization provides prevention for at risk individuals. Our clients regularly use shelter services, and have no long term housing. Many have unsafe housing where drug use and violence are prevalent. Without addressing their addiction, medical and mental health needs the cycle of addiction is often repeated. Stabilization also provides a bridge of services for existing organizations faced with this gap in care. This improves short and long term homelessness, addiction, and mental health strategies across B.C.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The Stabilization Counsellor works with clients to address their immediate needs by providing; hygiene products, clothing, supplies and bus tickets for appointments with MEIA, Treatment centres, medical/mental health practitioners, housing services etc. Our Mental Health Therapist is available for additional support and referrals and the in-house doctor is available for; medication review, new prescriptions and mental/physical health assessments. Stabilization also offers addiction resources and living skills. Clients are required to attend two group counselling sessions daily offering support, structure, and a sense of community. Peer support is always available and 12 step meetings are available. Clients receive assistance with: • Housing applications • MSD, EI or Pharmacare funding applications • Mental health referrals • Obtaining ID • Setting up a bank account • Organizing medications • Referrals to treatment and employment resource centers, doctors and dental care Clients in Stabilization also have access to the in-house treatment services available: • Volunteer Work Experience Program - where they gain valuable work experience • Smoking Cessation Support • Methadone Support • Alumni Group • Relapse Prevention • Introductory Computer Courses • Electives – Grief and Loss, Co-Dependency, Stress and Anger Management • VCC Learning Centre – providing educational upgrades including GED Stabilization offers stability, support, and encouragement for clients to continue their process towards positive change and growth.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Stabilization is a unique service that is very limited in availability within our community. Pacifica, an Addictions Treatment Centre, has a pre-treatment program, where clients can apply to stay before their admission date, but this is limited to clients who are attending their specific program. The Salvation Army Belkin House works with clients within their shelter, but do not have a program readily available that provides the same structure and support. Shelter beds that may be available provide shelter, but often residents are living in active addiction and staying clean in that environment can be very challenging.

Founding Story

In 2005, our then Detox Manager Nancy McConnell continued to hear frustrations, from staff and clients about feeling desperation after completing detox. After feeling supported physically and emotionally through their detox process and then obtaining a referral to treatment, clients expressed despair at having no supportive place to go while waiting for treatment. Because of this gap in services clients would return to detox again and again, having never made it to a treatment intake date. Nancy had heard one too many painful stories, and decided to talk to senior management at Harbour Light about what could possibly be done to help. The Stabilization program was the answer to this gap in services. Everyone worked together towards setting up this essential program.
About You
Salvation Army Harbour Light Vancouver
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Salvation Army Harbour Light Vancouver

Organization Country

, BC, Vancouver

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC, Vancouver

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact


How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Quality.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

The goal of our stabilization program is to prevent and reduce homelessness, improve the outcomes for mental health and addiction services, further community support, and serve as the bridge of services, so clients will see a greater success rate.
We provide homeless residents with the ability to stabilize their circumstances and move beyond emergency needs. Mental health, homelessness and addiction are comorbid concerns plaguing the residents of the DTES which we primarily serve. We work to stabilize clients in all areas, to allow them to be successful and move beyond emergency needs, to a stable, supportive environment.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Harbour Light’s stabilization program fills a vital gap in the continuum of care for at risk clients who face multiple barriers. It provides a stable transitional support service for clients who would otherwise be homeless. These clients are unable to live independently and stay clean without support and supervision. Through stabilization they are able to access other services as they transition towards independent living.

Addiction Treatment waiting lists are on average 2-8 weeks. Clients would complete detox, and have nowhere to go that provided a safe, supportive, clean, recovery focussed environment, while they were waiting.

Stabilization has evolved and expanded since then to offer a solid continuum of care, providing a myriad of services that help address the multiple complex issues of our client base.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

There is a desperate need in the community to have access to our Stabilization program and to support clients in their transition to long term stable housing and recovery from addiction, as they break the cycle of homelessness and addiction. In the last five years on average we have served over 300 clients per year. We have been able to successfully send hundreds of men on to treatment and assisted them with their medical, mental health and physical needs, provided clothing and eyewear vouchers, new ID, access to healthy nutritional food and information and introduced them to a more healthy and active lifestyle. We would like to continue to offer this service. We anticipate being able to serve hundreds more if this program continues.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Our primary barrier to providing this service is funding. For the first six years our program was funded by Service Canada. Due to budget adjustments we were not able to access funding for the 2012 year. We plan to continue to develop donation partnerships and continue to apply for available funding from a variety of sources. With funding support we will be able to keep this program alive and subsequently increase the amount of clients whose lives we will help to change.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Increase the visibility and awareness of the Stabilization Program by expanding community partners

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Build contacts by visiting 12 new sites and meeting with their social work/addictions team

Task 2

Invite 10 others to visit the Harbour Light Stabilization Unit for a tour, and to explain how our program works

Task 3

Attend monthly Vancouver Coastal Health Service Provider Meetings, to increase the visibility and support from VCH programs

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Work to increase the amount of Stabilization beds available, to make the service available to more clients

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Complete and develop more financial partnerships to fund the program

Task 2

Work with the regional government to increase the per diem rate for clients, based on the amount of services provided to clients

Task 3

Develop plans of how we can increase the space available to stabilization for more beds

Tell us about your partnerships

We have very strong partnerships in the community. We have continued to develop a relationship with Vancouver Coastal Health through attendance at Service Provider Meetings, and we are strongly regarded as an asset in the community, and receive regular referrals from VCH sites such as Vancouver Detox, Hospitals, Community Health Centres and Physicians. We have developed relationships with many Treatment Centres not only in the Vancouver region but provincially, as a respected, valuable resource.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

Our target population: males suffering from addiction issues who are seeking Treatment. Our location in the Downtown East side of Vancouver is a perfect access spot for our clientele, although we also welcome clients from Vancouver Island, Fraser Health region, the Interior, Northern BC. and the Thompson Okanagan. We will continue to develop our relationships with programs across B.C., to ensure that all of the clients in need, have access to this important program.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

Our success is determined by the strength of our team, and our passion and commitment to providing a valuable, worthwhile service that is desperately needed. From the Clinical Director to Peers and Volunteers, the goal of our Team is to provide the most valuable service based on our client needs. Our program has expanded and developed, due to client feedback, and observations. Weekly meetings provide an opportunity to develop ideas and ensure staff are confident and comfortable with the challenges of the current Stabilization group. Teamwork, commitment, and a sincere desire to help others enable our program to be successful.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

Our greatest need is financial. We hope to learn from addiction and homelessness research and welcome new ideas on how to improve/expand our program. We have information on program development that could benefit others. Collaboration is important to increase program visibility so more people can receive the help they need.