Community organizations joined together to launch a homelessness simulator hosted at the Okanagan Regional Library in Kelowna on Tuesday.
“Take Steps” is an experiential program, which will launch this fall to the business sector and wider community as part of a goal to raise awareness, inspire solution-focused conversation and help find an end to chronic homelessness in Kelowna.
Community partners include Journey Home, United Way, Okanagan Boys & Girls Clubs, the John Howard Society and the City of Kelowna.
“The goal is to give people an opportunity to walk in the shoes of someone else and experience some of the difficulties presented to people who are homeless,” executive director of John Howard Society Don Himer said.
The hour-long opportunity saw people from different businesses come together and given an identity they would have to play and struggles they had to overcome.
“I was Joseph, I have lost my wife and now am homeless. I had to go to the food bank, and without ID they sent me to another table where I would have to fill out papers to get ID. But without an ID, I wasn’t able to get very far and it felt like I was getting sent around in circles. It was very discouraging,” a participant said.
“I was trying to get ahead and was seeking help, but no one would help me in a timely fashion and it felt like I wasn’t their problem, so they sent me to the next person,” another participant of homelessness simulation said.
The United Way said the simulation project could potentially be replicated through other communities in the valley.
“Until you are put into the situation of a homeless person and you’re looking from the outside in, it’s seems like it could be an easy fix, but it’s not. It is really hard,” another participant said.