Manitoba

Donated personal alarms offer protection to Winnipeg's homeless

A Winnipeg security company has donated 100 personal alarms to agencies that help the homeless so that the city's most vulnerable people can protect themselves on the streets.

National Industrial Communications donating 100 devices each to 3 agencies

Donna Rossol, vice-president and owner of National Industrial Communications, holding a box of alarms to be sent out to Winnipeg homeless shelters. (Lindsay Tsuji/CBC)

A Winnipeg security company has donated 100 personal alarms to agencies that help the homeless so that the city's most vulnerable people can protect themselves on the streets.

The safety of people on the streets has been top of mind for outreach workers since two men were attacked and left for dead in downtown back alleys over the weekend.

So on Tuesday afternoon, National Industrial Communications delivered 100 personal alarm devices to the Salvation Army Booth Centre, a homeless shelter on Main Street.

Employees at National Industrial Communications pack personal alarms to be sent out to Siloam Mission and Main Street Project on Wednesday. (Lindsay Tsuji/CBC)
Another 100 devices each will be sent to Siloam Mission and the Main Street Project on Wednesday.

"We heard of the unfortunate incidents that happened in our city and one of my employees came to me this morning and she heard a couple people talking on the radio that said, 'Is there anything out there that's loud and that's noisy?'" owner and vice-president Donna Rossol told CBC News.

"The first thing that came to her mind is our panic alarm. I said, 'Why don't we give back to the community and donate some of these to help out the less fortunate?'"

Pulling the cord on the small devices activates a loud, high-pitched siren.

"Our company just wanted to help — being able to, if we can, stop some incidents and have them have some kind of protection that they don't have," Rossol said.

Alarms handed out at Booth Centre

Mark Stewart, the residential co-ordinator with the Salvation Army Booth Centre, says staff have been keeping a close eye on clients as they come and go. As well, people have been encouraged to travel in groups.

The alarms enable people to be safe on their own, he said.

"Right now we're currently distributing them to the people who are disabled mentally or physically, as well as people who want them," Stewart said.

Jeff Allan, who has been staying at the Booth Centre since October, picked up one of the alarms on Tuesday evening.

"I don't know who will respond around here — that's the one thing in this neighbourhood — but it's still going to cause a noise and … cause attention and that's a good thing, right?" he said.

"You got people and witnesses and if someone's smart enough, they'll run away, basically."

Colinda Vandale, who has been in and out of the Booth Centre, also found the alarms to be useful.

"When I feel danger around me, I can pull it. If I see somebody hurting another person, I could pull it to scare them away and to get that person help as well," she said.

Winnipeg police announced earlier on Tuesday that John Paul Ostamas, 39, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Donald Collins, 65, and Stony Stanley Bushie, 48, whose bodies were found on Saturday.

One of the victims was homeless, while the other was known to have spent time on the streets, according to police, who have warned the city's homeless people to be cautious.

Ostamas, who was himself homeless, was also charged with second-degree murder in the death of 37-year-old Miles Monias, who was found wounded in a bus shelter in the city April 10.

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