Calgary

Wellness centre for Homeless Calgarians sees massive demand in first month

A new wellness centre offers quick access to mental and physical health services for Calgarians experiencing homelessness and poverty right where they need it and the centre, run by the Mustard Seed, is already in high demand.

They expected 1,000 service requests - They got 2,600

Les Hosford, a homeless Calgarian, says accessing services was a challenge before a new wellness centre opened up. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

A new wellness centre offers quick access to mental and physical health services for Calgarians experiencing homelessness and poverty right where they need it and the centre, run by the Mustard Seed, is already in high demand.

Les Hosford has had his share of challenges in life.

"I've been homeless, couch surfing," Hosford said.

He now lives in the Mustard Seed's downtown affordable housing tower. His apartment is just upstairs from the new wellness centre.

Clinical director Boris Lesar says in the first month they expected to provide about 1,000 services to vulnerable Calgarians. They actually provided 2,600 services. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

"Before you'd have to go somewhere else out of the way and sometimes you wouldn't keep your appointments if you didn't have a way to get there," he explained.

"People don't always have money for bus tickets."

Clinical director Boris Lesar says the centre is one-stop shopping: it provides access to doctors, counsellors and advocates.

"We wanted to open up a space that says we respect you, we welcome you, we want you to feel at home here," Lesar told CBC News.

Boris Lesar says the new wellness centre has doctors, counsellors, advocates, occupational therapists and even chiropractors. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

There are occupational therapists and even chiropractors.

"People have difficulty accessing services in the community and sometimes people have to wait for months to be able to get the services," he explained.

"To have this down here is incredible because people don't have to be on wait lists. They don't have to wait for a long time. They can access services immediately when they are experiencing crisis."

Lesar says in the first month they expected to provide about 1,000 services to vulnerable Calgarians.

They actually provided 2,600 services.

With files from Jennifer Lee

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