Our Place Society is a community service provider for the poor, disadvantaged, and homeless of Greater Victoria. From its Pandora Avenue location, Our Place Society runs a variety of life transforming services, including meals, housing, health and wellness, education, and practical care.
We serve over 1,600 nutritious meals per day, while providing a safe and dignified environment for people to shower, receive clean clothing, find their place in the community, and connect with experienced, professional support staff. All of our services offer hope and belonging for the most vulnerable citizens of Greater Victoria.
- Our Place at 919 Pandora has 45 transitional housing units for the hardest to house in our region. The majority of people move directly from living on the streets into one of our units where they may stay for upwards of three years. Tenants receive the support of a housing team, which includes a mental health and addictions counsellor. The 15 units on our fifth floor are focused on those who are actively engaged in their recovery from addiction. Many tenants move up to the fifth floor as the final step on their journey into permanent housing.
- Choices Transitional Home in View Royal is a 24/7 transitional housing facility for 50 residents. A former youth custody detention centre, Our Place has transformed the facility into 50 indoor units complete with professional support staff, nutritious meals, counselling, art programs, and recreation. Read Miatreya's Story.
- First Met Shelter at 932 Balmoral Rd is a seasonal nightly shelter that can accommodate up to 60 people. Utilizing the gymnasium of First Met United Church, staff provide sleeping mats and blankets to people without anywhere else to sleep. This shelter opens at 7 p.m. each night and accepts singles, couples and people with pets.
Serving between 600 to 800 people per day, the Drop-In Centre is a sanctuary and community gathering place. Our Nutrition Bar is open between our scheduled hot meals, and serves coffee, tea and baked goods. While the Nutrition Bar is staffed by friendly volunteers, our professional staff of Outreach Workers are there to connect and assist people with their daily needs. Our Message & Mail Centre allows more than 400 people with no fixed address to receive mail and phone messages. Other services include access to computers, clothing, games, library, and more.
Our Place Outreach Workers meet people where they are at, building trust with a vulnerable population that has often felt at odds with mainstream society. The team provides Advocacy, Financial Crisis Support, Field Trips, Hope Fund, Interventions, Sports, Hair Cuts, Showers, Access Pro Bono Legal Services, Overdose Prevention Site, Income Tax, Counselling, Aboriginal Housing Advocacy, Referrals to Employment, Housing, Government Agencies, Medical, Detox & Treatment Services.
We serve over 1,600 nutritious meals per day. Breakfast is served every morning from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.; Lunch is Noon to 1 p.m.; Dinner is 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. In 2017, we served over 745,000 meals through the Nutrition Bar and Dining Room.
Our Place partners with community groups and volunteers to provide a vast array of opportunities to enrich intellect, develop personal insight, unleash creativity and learn practical skills. Volunteers provide programs in the areas of: Art Group, Art Therapy, Library, Choir, Computer Training, Gardening, Story Collective, Job Skills, Literacy, Knitting, Financial Planning, Math Class, Bike Maintenance, and more.
Our Place believes in bringing as many services as we can directly to the people we serve. To that end, the transformation of a washroom closet into a Medical Room delivers nurses, doctors and paramedics directly into the Drop-In Centre. Other health services provided by volunteers includes: Acupuncture, Acupressure, Chiropractic, Craniosacral Therapy, Massage, Therapy Dog, Dental Hygiene, First Aid, Foot Care, Hearing Clinics, Mayfair Optometric Clinic, Doctors, Nurses, Mental Health and Addiction Counselling, Reiki, Reflexology, Showers, and a Smart Recovery Program.
Over 35% of Our Place staff at 919 Pandora Avenue have first-hand experience with needing to access the services and supports of our organization. Many of our employees join us through a Hand-Up Program that aims to hire people struggling with employment due to issues surrounding poverty, addiction and mental illness. To assist the working poor, we also offer free Bus Tickets, Skills Training & Upgrading, and Bagged Lunches. Many of our "family" volunteers also receive a small stipend through our Peers Helping Peers program. Read Lloyd's Story.
There are two startling statistics in the first six months of Our Place operating an Overdose Prevention Site in its courtyard. The first is that staff have been able to respond to, on average, 30 drug overdoses per month. The second, and more encouraging statistic during this deadly fentanyl epidemic, is there hasn’t been a single fatality. The reason for this is the care and attention of the staff inside the orange POD or Place of Dignity. Working alongside paramedics and harm reduction workers, Aura is Our Place’s Outreach Liaison. “The POD is an extension of the Our Place Drop-In,” she says. “So the same supports are needed.” The overdose crisis has taken its toll on staff as people they have known and worked with for years have been dying at an accelerated rate. Having the paramedics on site has definitely helped with that fatigue, says Aura. The medical professionals are working alongside staff, which helps with the stress of finding someone you know in medical crisis from an overdose.