Our very own “Situation Table” is making its way to the Columbia Valley and it’s just what the social crisis doctor ordered. But not everyone is convinced that this model works.
On paper, these collaborative hubs are a great idea, a model enthusiastically utilized in other BC communities where vulnerable people have fallen through the cracks, consumed by homelessness, addiction, and a myriad of mental health problems.
The table consists of a group of agencies that work together to identify at-risk individuals and connect them with the services they need to address or overcome their personal crisis. It could be a local teen who steals to pro- vide for his family, or a single mother at the end of her rope and facing eviction.
The scenarios are plenty and more than represent what’s going on in our society today. It appears that people are struggling with more social ills than ever before. All you have to do is look around. In Kelowna, for example, a family was recently dining in a downtown patio when they were accosted by a street person who demanded food off their plates, leading to an altercation. In another incident, a man reported that a street person kicked his car while he was picking up a pizza order in Kelowna. The suspect reportedly accused the driver of “stalking” his lady and allegedly threatened him with a gun.
Something really has to be done about this as innocent people seem to be routinely victimized on a daily ba- sis. So, perhaps these “situation tables” are the answer. It makes sense to reach out to these offenders to determine what the root problem is and offer them the help they need. The fact is these individuals are taking up valuable emergency resources that are better utilized elsewhere. Too often police officers are tied up dealing with people’s mental health issues rather than focusing on the real criminals creating havoc on our streets.
Of course, there are the naysayers who argue that Situation Tables are violating people’s privacy and have little oversight or accountability. But some members will tell you that these tables are working and have shown the intended results by matching at-risk individuals with appropriate services. And it’s all confidential and voluntary.
The Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research at the University of the Fraser Valley reported (last year) that Situation Tables appear to be theoretically sound but notes there have been no comprehensive assessments on their success.
Either way, it’s a step in the right direction to at least reach out and do something instead of ignoring a prob- lem that appears to be spiraling out of control.
Lyonel Doherty, editor