Nanaimo Men's Centre to close after lack of funding

By Spencer Sterritt
May 9, 2018 - 1:35pm Updated: May 10, 2018 - 9:57am

Brochures for counselling and support programs will be pulled down from the Men's Centre windows when the service closes this summer.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — A resource for Nanaimo men suffering from depression, homelessness, violence and drug addiction will close this summer.

The Nanaimo Men's Centre announced Wednesday morning there isn't enough money to keep their doors open, even after years of working with a skeleton crew.

“We've already cut programs and staff to the bone,” executive director Theo Boere told NanaimoNewsNOW. “To cut any deeper we're getting into bone marrow and we're probably going to end up losing more staff.”

The Men's Centre on Fitzwilliam St. opened in 2002 and works to support men in crisis, whether it's helping stay in the lives of their children after a divorce, providing counselling or battling depression and suicidal thoughts.

“Every year someone comes up to me out of the blue and says 'If it hadn't been for the Men's Centre I would have committed suicide,'” Boere said. “To know we're saving lives, not just by preventing suicide but the work we do with domestic violence, shaping kids lives by keeping their dads connected, is huge.”

Recent years were a struggle for the organization, with high staff turnover since they can't offer much compensation or job security for well-trained counsellors and mentors.

“You can run from funding grant to funding grant and develop a fantastic volunteer base like we have, but you need cash to pay the bills,” Boere said.

In November 2017, Boere said they met with the provincial government about the possibility of additional funding, but he said nothing came of it.

“Six months later and nothing has happened. It's their responsibility to support social programs in this province. They don't seem to be paying attention to the issues or the huge impact that has.”

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MLA Leonard Krog, who met with Boere in the fall, said the province is trying to help the centre keep their doors open.

"I had discussions the other week with staff, I know they were working on trying to secure some funding for them. Certainly when you're not getting funding on the other end, I understand why the Centre and Mr. Boere might feel they haven't been dealt with in the way they would like."

Boere said he expected their doors will close for the last time in the middle of the summer, though they might be able to stretch their small amount of funds until the fall.

 

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