Increase in transportation requests shows increased demand for NEOSS services

EAST CENTRAL — In the past year, the North East Outreach and Support Services (NEOSS) performed 161 transportations to safety, counseling services and other partnering services.

Louise Schweitzer, NEOSS’ executive director, said this is an increase from past years.

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“It means that people are using our services more. I don’t think it means we have more violence in our community, but definitely that more people are using our services,” Schweitzer said. “Sadly, it may mean the numbers are going up in the communities because people are using the services. There is no way to know.”

Schweitzer theorizes that the increase in use is due to awareness.

“We have a service that’s consistent in our communities now, we have a very stable staff that has been able to build relationships and trust relationships in our communities. I think that will continue to rise just due to that.”

For residential services, NEOSS served 88 women and 111 children during the period, which is similar to past years.

Their shelter stayed at about a consistent 95 per cent capacity with beds occupied. The average stay was 15.5 days, which is slightly lower than the previous year by about six days.

“This means a variety of things; that they’re finding their supports sooner, that they’re choosing to move onto other spaces, that they’re getting into housing faster,” Scweitzer said. “The situation is so unique with the clients that I don’t have any particular trend at this moment.”

Their family violence outreach program provided 5,740 direct client contacts for the year, with 48 client project and promotions that impacted 881 participants. This means 881 people were given knowledge, skills and support to be healthy.

Each department carries an average caseload of 64 open files monthly, per staff.

“Our staff is very busy,” Schweitzer said. “Some will be longer term, some will be sort, but that’s an average what they do.”

Schweitzer said some highlights from the previous year include creating Melfort Youth Evolution, gaining funding for a full-time walk-in counselling service, and building their new programs and administration facility.

“We weren’t able to move into it in the last year, but we are in the process of moving into it, so that’s definitely one of the highlights,” she said. “One of our other highlights is the work our hardworking staff did with clients and the amount of people that we served.”

Melfort Youth Evolution is a youth council striving to bring activities to the youth of Melfort.

Schweitzer said their long-term goal is to bring a youth council to each community in the region.

“We serve the community of the northeast, so hopefully we can continue to do that as our outreach team goes to the whole northeast – Nipawin, Carrot River, Porcupine Plain, Archerwill, Kelvington.”

Their full-time walk-in counselor was funded through Family Services Saskatchewan, and will continue into the next year. The counselor’s role is to go out into various communities in the region on a scheduled basis and hold a space for short-term walk-in clients.

Members of the community can see the counselor for any issue they are facing.

Schweitzer said NEOSS feels the walk-in program is successful, with their numbers feeding into their family violence outreach program’s 5,740 direct client contacts.

“We’re excited to have that counselor with us and working alongside our personal violence counselors, and having everyone fill the need that’s presented to us by our communities.”

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