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Keeping Six

NewsletterK6 & HAMSMaRT Weekly Newsletter no. 9

K6 & HAMSMaRT Weekly Newsletter no. 9

May 19, 2020

Dear HAMSMaRT and Keeping Six Supporters,

Hello and thanks for reading our weekly updates! We hope they offer some connection to each other and the greater Hamilton community. Read the bolded sentences below to get the main points.

We were incredibly grateful to find out we are receiving another $20 000 from the Hamilton Community Foundation to continue our work. We await word about pandemic emergency response funding from the City of Hamilton, and will finalize a plan shortly for spending acquired funds to sustain and strengthen our response. Our pandemic response to date has been entirely volunteer organized and run, and we are immensely proud of how Hamiltonians have stepped up. Together, we can meet the needs of everyone in our community.

The June volunteer schedule will come out later this week for people to sign up! We have an active roster of volunteers baking cookies, decorating brown paper bags, going on outreach, and shopping for supplies. If you are not already registered as a volunteer and want to join the volunteer crew for June, sign up here https://keepingsix.org/volunteer.

We are still collecting donations, with many people asking us for tents, tarps, and sleeping bags – 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 tents@keepingsix.org. To donate electronics or phones email info@hamsmart.ca. To donate bottles of water email volunteer@keepingsix.org.

Outreach happened as planned three times this past week, even on the very rainy Thursday (thank you outreach volunteers!), 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. We sound like a broken record because things have not changed much: people need places to be and live, places to use the washroom, and places to shower. Another week and no new public access porta potties or washrooms have been established by the city, and the city still refuses to stop clearing encampments as it sees fit. We continue to press the city for action on the following items:

  1. Immediately enact a moratorium on clearing encampments on public lands as per available public health guidance.
  2. Work to quickly install more porta potties throughout downtown.
  3. 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. Recognizing how fortunate we and others are to have financial support from Hamilton Community Foundation, here are other groups in Hamilton and Ontario doing essential work. Consider how you can support them! These groups may also be able to offer you help when you need it.

  1. Downtown East Mutual Aid – a group of neighbours in east Hamilton who are helping each other with groceries, shopping for and delivering supplies, soliciting and delivering donated supplies, offering emotional support, and more. You can learn how to access support or make a donation here https://downtowneastmutualaid.ca/.
  2. Strathcona Community Care Response – a group of neighbours in Strathcona who are fundraising and delivering essential supplies to neighbours. You can join their group here https://www.facebook.com/groups/583108168949506/ and donate here https://ca.gofundme.com/f/covid19-community-care-fund-strathcona-amp-area.
  3. Kyle’s Place – a pre-COVID trans and non-binary prioritized space that is committed to fostering community, solidarity, support, advocacy and access to resources. They are helping to cover the cost of medications including hormones, distributing free gender gear, delivering prescriptions and supplies, and creating and distributing care packages of food, cloth masks, and other essentials. You can donate by e-transfer to transpeersupport@gmail.com and learn more here about their work and how to access support https://www.facebook.com/Kyles.place19/.
  4. Glia – another pre-COVID project, led by Dr Tarek Loubani in London, ON. Their mission is to produce high-quality low-cost open source medical hardware that makes a difference. Their initial focus was on providing medical equipment to Palestine and the Gaza Strip, and they now also produce open source face shields for Canadian medical workers. Anyone around the world can access their open source designs. Learn more and donate or order here: https://glia.org/.

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 tents@keepingsix.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 info@hamsmart.ca 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 volunteer@keepinsix.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.

In solidarity,

Organizers from Keeping Six and HAMSMaRT

EST. 2018

Keeping Six – Hamilton Harm Reduction Action League is a community-based organization that defends the rights, dignity, and humanity of people who use drugs.