REACH Edmonton

In its first six months of operation, the 24/7 Mobile Assistance Program (MAP) team has had a measurable affect on the community and has lightened the load of other emergency services in Edmonton. On the streets since April 30, the 24/7 MAP team is made up of complex support workers who engage closely with emergency services and first responders to increase support and access to services for the city's most vulnerable and chronically homeless people. Bissell Centre is responsible for operating the 24/7 MAP team and is part of an invaluable partnership with REACH Edmonton and Homeward Trust. This partnership administers the funds from the City of Edmonton and the Federal Government. The 24/7 MAP team works with vulnerable people who might otherwise take up valuable police and emergency responder time unnecessarily. Between April 30 and Sept. 30, 2013 there were a total of 553 calls to 24/7 MAP. Of these, 68 went to police first and the MAP team then responded. Fifty-one calls were diverted immediately to the 24/7 MAP team from emergency calls - saving valuable police time and resources. In its first five months of operation, this team has put in 449 hours responding to 553 crisis contacts while offering 257 hours of direct follow-up support. Before the 24/7 MAP team was out on Edmonton streets, police were spending an average of 149 minutes of officer time on these kinds of calls, including trouble with intoxicated persons, general complaints and requests to check on a person's welfare. The 24/7 MAP team members now spend an average of 108.48 minutes responding to each call diverted from Edmonton Police Services. These efficiencies are a result of having a well-trained and qualified team that can address mental health, addictions, housing instability and poverty. "This team is highly trained to respond to people in crisis, who might not necessarily need police or an ambulance," said Jan Fox, Executive Director of REACH Edmonton. "With the help of the 24/7 MAP team, these people will receive the support and referrals to services that will help address the root causes of their crisis. Meanwhile, valuable police and emergency responder time and resources can be redirected toward daily emergency services work." As of the end of September, 99 people - who are often exceptionally hard-to-house persons - have been assessed as needing housing. To date, the 24/7 MAP Housing Outreach Workers have worked with 55 people around housing issues and 13 people have been housed. The public can also play a role in helping their vulnerable fellow citizens by calling 211 to connect the 24/7 MAP team with individuals in crisis.