A new app aims to give young Winnipeggers at risk of joining a gang — and the front-line staff working to protect them — a resource to quickly connect to helpful services and programs.
The app, called ResouceConnect, was released Wednesday by GAIN — the Gang Action Interagency Network, which describes itself as a network of government and not-for-profit agencies, community organizations and law enforcement officials focused on gang prevention.
The app is now available for free on all Android devices at the Google Play Store.
"Winnipeg has a lot of really great services and programs that it offers but you don't always necessarily know about everything," said Robyn Dryden, network co-ordinator with GAIN.
"This really helps to connect both individuals and service providers to the things that are out there."
The app provides access to over 6,000 programs, services and other resources province-wide, ranging from basic needs and health-care services to leisure and volunteer services, said Dryden.
"Things that would be on the app are like 24/7 safe spaces, addictions programming, recreation stuff, mental health and homelessness [services]," she said. "It covers the gamut. There's something there for everyone."
Dryden says once downloaded and installed, the app does not require an internet connection to function, meaning users can search and browse for resources even when they are offline.
"The original thought behind having an app like this was that we can connect all kinds of service providers and youth to alternative options," said Dryden, adding offline capabilities were something police and other agencies asked for during development.
"If they have a kid in their cop car at three o'clock in the morning and they don't know where to take them and their only other option is the Youth Centre, that's not always the best option."
When the app is connected it lets users access tools to call or email agencies, view service websites, and see maps with directions to program locations, says Dryden.
"It really just helps to bridge those gaps and connect people to other services that their clients will probably need or be interested in," she said.
Dryden is hopeful GAIN will be able to roll out the app for phones using Apple's iOS operating system as more funding becomes available.
In the meantime, she says GAIN will work with the roughly 180 organizations in its network to promote the app to the youth they work with.