K6 & HAMSMaRT Weekly Newsletter no. 8
May 11, 2020
Dear HAMSMaRT and Keeping Six Supporters,
Happy (belated) Mother’s Day! We hope you all found a way to honour the mothers, aunts, grannies, and feminine or genderqueer caregivers in your lives – including yourselves, if you identify with these roles. Read the bolded sentences below to get the main points.
We have an active roster of volunteers baking cookies, decorating brown paper bags, going on outreach, and shopping for supplies. We’ve also directed many folks to volunteer with the rest and hygiene centres organized and operated by downtown churches. First it was St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, then New Vision United Church came on board, and today Christ Church Cathedral opens their doors. This means that 7 days a week from 10 am to 9 pm people can take a rest, eat a snack, and use a washroom. This is the power of community. We are still looking for a few May volunteers to decorate brown paper bags for outreach lunches, and the June volunteer schedule will come out next week. If you are registered as a volunteer but haven’t signed up yet, please do. You should have received a separate email with the sign up schedule. If you are not already registered as a volunteer and want to join the volunteer crew for the May or June schedule, sign up here https://keepingsix.org/volunteer.
We are still collecting donations – cash is useful so we can buy items people need, as well as donations of cell phones, tablets, tents, sleeping bags, fleece blankets, tarps, and individually packaged juice, cans of pop, or water bottles. To donate camping equipment email email@example.com. To donate electronics or phones email firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate bottles of water email email@example.com.
Outreach happened as planned three times this past week, with more than 900 lunches distributed along with over 900 home baked goods, art supplies, essentials, and harm reduction supplies for people who use drugs. The message is the same: people need places to be and live, places to use the washroom, and places to shower. There is still no moratorium on clearing encampments, and the Jackie Washington Park encampment was cleared this past Wednesday. Dr Jill Wiwcharuk had an op-ed in today’s Hamilton Spectator highlighting this issue. No new public access porta potties or washrooms have been established. We are very grateful to the various social service agencies who have stepped up to offer some access to showers or laundry, but this too remains an urgent need. We continue to press the city for action on the following items:
- Immediately enact a moratorium on clearing encampments on public lands as per available public health guidance.
- Work to quickly install more porta potties throughout downtown.
- Work to quickly open community centres or other publicly owned facilities for people to have showers.
Please take 5 minutes today to call or email your city councillor about these urgent needs.
And finally a note on our connection to other struggles. One thing we are really enjoying is seeing all the new ways of digital organizing, and being able to learn from other organizers as they host webinars, record podcasts, take action, and engage communities. We will share a few of our favourites from this past week and encourage you to check them out!
- A conversation about Covid-19 and women’s homelessness with Leah Gazan (MP Winnipeg Centre), Leilani Farha (former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing and Global Director of The Shift), Dr. Kaitlin Schwan (Co-Chair of the Canadian Womens National Housing and Homelessness Network), and Anjum Sultana (Director of Public Policy & Strategic Communications at YWCA Canada).
- #WetsuwetenStrong Virtual Rally and Online Communications Blockade to Tell KKR: Respect Indigenous Rights. Actions included making banners and sharing pictures, telephone calls, tweets, and emails, as well as an online speaking event that you can listen to here.
- CareMongering-HamOnt: Hamilton Community Response to COVID19 sharing their guiding principles and taking questions from group members about their work and principles.
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE THIS WEEK:
CONTACT YOUR CITY COUNCILLOR To ask them about what they are doing to support people who are homeless and people who use drugs, and request they place a moratorium on the removal of encampments and instead focus the city’s efforts on providing them with adequate shelter, food, and services. You can find contact info for your city councillor here.
VOLUNTEER to decorate brown paper bags for outreach lunches, bake sweet treats, go on outreach, shop for supplies, or help staff rest and hygiene stations, by signing up here: https://keepingsix.org/volunteer.
DONATE CASH (or ask people in your network to donate) https://keepingsix.org/support/.
DONATE LIKE-NEW/EXCELLENT CONDITION TENTS, SLEEPING BAGS, FLEECE BLANKETS, OR TARPS by emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org. Fleece blankets are a great project for sewers!
DONATE WORKING ELECTRONICS As we anticipate the need to isolate in the shelter population, electronics for telemedicine consults and staving off boredom are needed. If you have an old, working laptop, tablet, smartphone, or flip phone please be in touch at email@example.com to make arrangements for drop off or pick up.
DONATE INDIVIDUAL BOTTLES OF WATER An essential item for the outreach lunches, please be in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements for drop off or pick up.
AMPLIFY our messages on twitter @HAMSMaRTeam and @keepingsix and by forwarding this email, so that decision makers LISTEN to people who are homeless and/or who use drugs about what they need right now.
Organizers from Keeping Six and HAMSMaRT