The Folks on Spokes (FOS) Clean Crew has returned to duty in Downtown Vernon, thanks to a grant from the Community Action Initiative (CAI), along with support from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, and the Overdose Emergency Response Centre.
The funding, provided through the Community Wellness and Harm Reduction Grant Program, was originally earmarked to hire a dedicated FOS Program Coordinator; however, plans had to be revised when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“The Folks on Spokes program was incredibly successful last year, so we were looking forward to taking the next step of hiring a coordinator,” said Rachael Zubick, Vernon Community Safety Coordinator. “Thankfully, the CAI generously redirected the funds to allow for the project to run with a few administrative and program adjustments instead.”
Zubick continued, “The Folks on Spokes team is incredible! Since the program started up again five weeks ago, they have removed 72 bags of garbage from Downtown and have properly disposed of 52 needles.”
FOS engages peers – people with lived experience of substance use – in the community, and helps builds a sense of belonging and pride. It develops relationships between peers, businesses and the broader community while also providing pre-employment opportunities and the prospect for a reference. The FOS program helps build skills and confidence for peers who are taking part in the program.
Peer teams are armed with a janitor’s cart and a list of known hot spots. They sweep the area twice a day during a two-hour shift. Hot spots are cleaned early in the morning to support businesses before (or as) they are opening, and in the mid-afternoon. Emerging areas of concern are added to the list as they surface.
FOS is coordinated through the City of Vernon Community Safety Office in partnership with Partner’s in Action Sharps Action Team.
To report an improperly discarded needle or an emerging hot-spot in the Downtown, please call 250-550-7841 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. After hours, call Vernon Bylaw Compliance at 250-550-3505.