Liv­ing room more than just a place to re­lax

Nu­natsi­avut ini­tia­tive of­fer­ing sup­port to those who need it most

The Labradorian - - Front Page - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY danette@nl.rogers.com

The Nu­natsi­avut Health and So­cial De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity Of­fice in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay has re­cently opened a liv­ing room space where peo­ple can go to re­lax, en­joy a hot bev­er­age, watch a movie, spend time on a com­puter or just pass away some time in the com­fort of a home-like en­vi­ron­ment.

The new ini­tia­tive is an­other way to en­hance sup­ports and ser­vices of­fered to vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in the com­mu­nity in­clud­ing those who are home­less or at risk of home­less­ness.

“We felt with the num­ber of peo­ple, es­pe­cially ben­e­fi­cia­ries, in our com­mu­nity who are uti­liz­ing the shel­ter, couch surf­ing, peo­ple who don’t have safe places to go — hav­ing a liv­ing room that they can go visit would be an­other way to help sup­port them,” Nu­natsi­avut Health and So­cial De­vel­op­ment team leader Sharon Ed­munds said.

The com­mu­nity of­fice also of­fers brown-bag lunches sev­eral days a week, Ed­munds said, dis­tribut­ing about 200 lunches a month.

“This is an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to get some food for them­selves and we thought we would ex­tend it a lit­tle bit more ... and have a space where they can go and sit down, en­joy their brown-bag lunches and also have a hot cof­fee or tea. They can have some toast and some­times that might be all they have for the day that’s hot,” Ed­munds said.

When it came to dec­o­rat­ing the liv­ing room, she said, lo­cal crafters were quick to of­fer their time and tal­ent.

“When we told our el­ders about this and that we would like them to do some art­work for the space, they were so happy. So there is some seal­skin art­work on the wall. They also did some quilt­ing and sew­ing,” she said.

Peo­ple com­ing to the liv­ing room ap­pre­ci­ate that the tele­vi­sion has Net­flix, Ed­munds said, to watch a movie.

In­ter­net ac­cess on the com­puter is also great for peo­ple who have no other means of con­nect­ing with their fam­ily, she said.

Hav­ing peo­ple come to the liv­ing room is also a way to in­tro­duce them to other pro­grams and ser­vices such as the com­mu­nity of­fice’s cloth­ing ini­tia­tive where peo­ple are en­cour­aged to take do­nated cloth­ing, at no cost, Ed­munds said.

The liv­ing room is also used by the Fam­ily Con­nec­tions Pro­grams — where com­mu­nity health work­ers work one-onone with fam­i­lies who may need su­per­vised vis­its with their chil­dren.

“We sup­port them how­ever we can, based on their needs. The room is an­other op­tion for peo­ple to get out of their home, to have a dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment for their vis­its,” Ed­munds said.

Opened just over a week, she said, the liv­ing room has seen about three peo­ple visit a day. That num­ber is ex­pected to in­crease, she said, as the weather gets colder.

Wil­liam Pi­jogge is a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to the liv­ing room.

“I’ve been here for the last five or six days ... When I came here my friend was here on the com­puter. I’ve watched a few movies. I vis­its my grand­mother and goes over to my moms and now this is a great place for me to go,” Pi­jogge said.

Ed­munds said the liv­ing room, cloth­ing pro­gram and brown­page lunches, are not just for Nu­natsi­avut ben­e­fi­cia­ries but for all peo­ple who need such ser­vices.

The liv­ing room will be a great space not only in the win­ter but also in the sum­mer when peo­ple want to get in­doors from the heat and flies, she said.

“It’s not a big space. It’s just a reg­u­lar liv­ing room with a couch and a chair and a com­puter desk. Not a lot of peo­ple can uti­lize it at one time. But, it’s a be­gin­ning,” she said.

PHOTO COUR­TESY SHARON ED­MUNDS

Wil­liam Pi­jogge says he en­joys spend­ing time watch­ing movies in the liv­ing room at the Nu­natsi­avut Health and So­cial De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity Of­fice in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay.

PHOTO COUR­TESY KELLY JACOBS

The newly opened liv­ing room at the Nu­natsi­avut Health and So­cial De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity Of­fice in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay.

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