The cornerstone of Head & Hands nearly 50 years as a service provider to youth in Montreal has been it’s adaptability: shifting the types and nature of programming to meet emerging trends amongst the most marginalized populations in the city. The last two years at Head & Hands have been no different, with the organization seeing a rise in refugees and new arrivals seeking support for critical yet basic life needs. These new clients are travelling to NDG on public transit from as far as Ville St-Laurent and Laval.
Of Head & Hands nine programs, the Food Pantry has been the most affected by the increase. What began as an emergency service for youth in precarious situation has expanded to serving families and households just trying to get by: in the last year, Head & Hands’ Food Pantry has gone from emptying out every 8-10 days to every 3-4 days. This year, over 30% of the 538 individuals and families who received food were Nigerian refugees.
In October 2019, when Head & Hands started a winter clothing program for adults and children, it distributed 40 items in 2 days.
According to Jess, Food Security Coordinator, “Refugees and new arrivals aren’t able to access services in other places: other organizations ask for ID, or proof of address. People come to us because we are one of the most accessible food security services in the city — we don’t need proof of anything! Head & Hands stretches its services because we don’t want to turn anyone away, regardless of who they are.”
Head & Hands is seeking donations from the community to support its clients through the winter: a particularly challenging time for their highest need clients. As always, monetary support is the easiest way to support, via mail or on its website. For those with extra winter gear they would like to donate, they can find details of what Head & Hands is looking for at http://headandhands.ca/news
—Head & Hands