An annual event that connects homeless people with services in Victoria, as well as provides information about what supports are available, resumed today after a pause during the pandemic.
Project Connect has been running since 2008, where downtown service providers set up at Royal Athletic Park to provide services or information for homeless people in Victoria. It is being called ReConnect this year, since it is relaunching after a pandemic pause.
Janine Theobald, Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness’s director of collaborative engagement says this is a chance for service providers and homeless people to connect.
“Project ReConnect is about coming back together, the landscape has changed in service delivery since the pandemic,” Theobald told CHEK News. “So it’s an opportunity for old services to share what their new services are and for the newer collaborations to come together.”
Services on site included medical care, peer support, professional portraits, an ID clinic and haircuts.
Greg Samborski, who was doing professional portraits at the event, says he enjoys seeing how people react after they get their pictures taken.
“The first year I did this was about two years ago, and it was so cool to see the expression on people’s faces. They come into the booth and they’re like, ‘I’m not a model and I don’t look good on camera and I don’t think it’s for me,'” Samborski said.
“When you hand them their print, the expression on their face they just light up, they love it. They usually want to take it home they usually want to come back and do more. It’s nice to give people who might not be able to book a photo session the opportunity.”
Samborski says he tries to capture people’s stories while taking their picture and he enjoys being able to get to know them.
“It’s a very personal thing when you sit so close to somebody and you have the lens on them,” Samborski says. “The connections I’ve made and the stories I’ve heard, I think you come here with a pre-conception of who you’re going to meet and then you realise there’s people from all walks of life and it’s really cool to hear their life stories, and take them with you as you go.”
At the event, there was also an area where people with lived experiences of homelessness were set up to talk to people currently experiencing homelessness about their experiences.
“Project ReConnect is a good time to reevaluate the looking glass we view marginalized people in our society, whether they struggle with drug misuse or homelessness, we need to reevaluate and reconnect,” Darrin Murphy, person with lived experience and one of the attendees said in a news release.
“I believe it’s instrumental in bringing us together in working towards a common solution.”