Brunswick Street Mission (BSM), located in Halifax NS, seeks to inspire a better quality of life that addresses physical, emotional, practical and spiritual needs for those experiencing poverty.
Many of the people we see are homeless, others are at risk of homelessness. There are individuals, couples, and families. Some work, some are on assistance and others receive disability or pension support. Their backgrounds are as varied as they are but the common element is the daily struggle.These issues do not discriminate.
We see it all as some conditions seem almost synonymous with poverty; mental illness, addictions, physical disabilities, criminal record, and violence are harsh everyday realities. Survival alone can take all one's energy but resourcefulness, resiliency, dignity, hope and humour can also be seen and with some support and a second (third, fourth...) chance, many of our participants can hope for a better future. Or at least a more tolerable present.
Our programs include:
Hot Breakfast Program: In Halifax, a number of organizations provide a continuum of shelter and meal services for vulnerable persons. BSM’s role is to provide a hot breakfast 6 days a week. Hot breakfast is served Monday through Saturday to people who arrive at our door. The Mission goes beyond a hot meal each morning offering support, conversation, playing cards, to those who are regular visitors and to those passing though from other provinces. Approximately 20,000 hot meals are prepared and provided annually.
Trusteeship Program: The Trusteeship Program provides financial support for individuals who have challenges managing their limited income. Beyond assisting with money management, the Trusteeship Program helps find housing and provides individualized support with life skills. Clients may receive coaching in areas such as budgeting, resume writing and interview skills and assistance with problem solving and setting goals. They are often connected with other services and supports that will help them achieve their goals. The program supports approximately 200 clients annually.
Food Bank: By providing groceries (bread, crackers, meat/cheeses, vegetables), we can make a huge difference to the volume and nutritional quality of food available to a family. Almost half of our clients are experiencing a temporary crisis however, many families who rely on income or disability assistance have no choice but to use food banks regularly. BSM is part of a network of food banks supported by Feed Nova Scotia. Each year over 2,000 individuals access our food bank.
Benevolent Program: The Benevolent Program is for those facing a crisis and need help managing one-time sizeable bills (Nova Scotia Power or rent). People have an opportunity to receive guidance, community connections and other services so they can prepare to move forward in life. Over 500 people receive support through this program annually, including assistance with bills or investments in changes to their situations.
Clothing Bank: BSM has operated a clothing bank for over 40 years. The clothing bank is open to all individuals on Mondays. Clothing is donated by individuals and local businesses. Each year more than 3,000 individuals have accessed necessities for themselves and their families.
Tax Return Program: The Mission knows that people living in poverty struggle with keeping records and filling out forms, but thanks to knowledgable volunteers, people can get their income taxes done and qualify for government rebates. A year round program supporting those on Income Assistance ensures that individuals don’t lose benefits and supports those who may be eligible for benefits but requires additional help. The program has consistently grown over the years from 50 returns completed to 1,000 returns completed this past tax season.
Christmas Program: At a time of year that can have a significant impact on individuals and families the Christmas Program provides an opportunity to bring joy to those struggling. Christmas hampers provide a full “turkey with all the trimmings” meal to families with a kitchen. The hot Christmas dinner served at BSM on Christmas Eve is provided to those struggling with homeless or those who wish to join the BSM family for a festival meal. In early December, the clothing bank transforms into a Christmas “Shop” allowing us to provide individuals with an opportunity to select gifts for their children and family members.
The Brunswick Street Mission was created by, inspired by, and remains supported by the United Church of Canada. But it is important to understand that the Mission does not apply or support any restrictions, preferences, or practices that might limit the involvement or advancement of any person based on religion. We celebrate diversity in all its forms, and will make extra effort to invite, involve and accommodate all persons. Spirituality is recognized as a key component of wellness and wholeness, and opportunity for prayer and pastoral support may be offered but is never expected or demanded as a condition of inclusion.