COMMUNITY HELP DESK

The community help desk is a hub of connectivity. Every day, hundreds of people come to our window to be connected with basic health and hygiene supplies and to receive information and referrals to housing, food banks, and other community resources. Having access to these basic supplies - like dry socks, hot showers, and harm reduction items - is a vital part of supporting the wellness and dignity of our community. To learn more about donating items to this program click here.

Through our community phone and mail management programs, we help people maintain connections with friends and family, near and far. First United serves as the home address for over 300 people who do not have homes or fixed addresses. This allows people to receive family letters, job information, cheques, and other correspondence. An address is required for many common things such as filing taxes, acquiring identification, or accessing social services. We also provide free photocopying, fax, long-distance calling, and outgoing mail.

We also operate other drop-in programs out of the community help desk such as the sanctuary, foot-care, and taxes.

THE SANCTUARY

Too often, people in poverty simply do not have a place to belong. Their homes may be cramped or run-down, or they may not have a home at all. They may not be able to afford to spend time in restaurants or coffee shops, or are made to feel unwelcome in those public places. That’s why First United’s sanctuary is so important: we provide a place of welcome and acceptance for people with no other options. People are welcome to participate in social activities - like movies and tea time - or just quietly sit and enjoy this open place.

FOOT-CARE

Simple acts of kindness can be the most meaningful. That’s why the foot-care is one of First United’s most popular and impactful programs. Many of the men and women we serve come to us with sore or injured feet, often from ill-fitting shoes or from spending all day walking the streets. Foot-care volunteers offer them a soothing foot bath, nurses offer wound care, and everyone leaves with a fresh pair of socks. This simple act of relaxation and self-care helps to improve people’s health and sense of dignity.

TAX PROGRAM

Our Tax Program is a vital program serving low-income people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Each year, we process thousands of tax returns enabling individuals to access vital benefits related to housing, pensions, and other assistance programs. To contact the tax program, email taxes@firstunited.ca.

PERSONAL STORAGE

For people who are homeless, our storage facility is often the first step off the streets. Through the mobility it affords, people are able to stabilize their lives, restore trust and build relationships, connect with services, attend trainings and interviews, and even go to work. The facility is the only program of its kind in Vancouver, and offers 200 units of storage, accessible seven days a week. To contact storage directly, call 604-619-5242. To watch a short video about our storage program, click here: https://firstunited.ca/outreach/storage/

SENIORS PROGRAMS

Too often, low-income seniors, especially those living with mental health and addictions, can experience loneliness and isolation, leading to depression. Our seniors programs provide opportunities for Downtown Eastside elders to connect with peers, learn new skills, and access the support services they need to stay healthy and safe as they age. Our programs are geared toward ageing well at home and take place in our social housing buildings on the Downtown Eastside. Activities include weekly lunches, arts nights, and seasonal community gardening.