New, bigger space allows for improved and expanded program delivery at Thrive

A new location for Thrive means it can expand its services and better provide its existing offerings to the hundreds of people who come through their doors every year, the St. John's outreach and advocacy group's employees say.

But as staff finished unpacking Wednesday the organization's executive director told The St. John's Morning Show that the fact that the space was now fully accessible was even more of a motivation to move than the extra space.

"It was probably the highlight of my week last week, to be able to see somebody who can come into this space and get around anywhere," said Angela Crockwell, recalling a visit from an ally of the organization who uses a wheelchair.

The accessibility and increased space means that existing programs run by Thrive alternative education options, street outreach work, and support programs for sex workers trying to leave the industry can operate more efficiently, and even expand.

That's good news for the 843 people Thrive served last year, Crockwell said. In total, the group had about 5,000 contacts last year, she said, whether that was someone who popped in to use the phone or a person who was more directly involved with one of their programs.

Move benefits Thrive's programming

All of Thrive's programs will benefit in different ways from the new space, staff members said.

"We have an area now where people can come in and participants can actually get together," said Erin Law, a support co-ordinator with Blue Door, Thrive's program for people in the sex trade or who are being sexually exploited.

The extra space has allowed for the setup of a community area where program participants can gather, Law said. There is also now a separate office for Thrive's counsellor, which means that service is available on site.

Before the move, a lab space set up for students getting foundational math and English education, or studying for a GED exam, had to be taken down after each use. Now it can be up permanently, meaning more students can write exams, said Thrive learning facilitator Shelby Arnold.

Adam Walsh/CBC

The new location also means more space for Thrive's Street Reach outreach program, including evening drop-in times once a week and daytime drops-ins from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. People can come in for a snack or meal, to use the phone, or to access case management services that help them connect with other services in the community, said Erin Butler, Street Reach's lead program co-ordinator.

"This is the first time in a long time that we've actually been able to have our case management services and our evening drop-in in the same space, so it's been phenomenal," Butler said.

Thrive's new location is 807 Water St., right behind Gingersnap on the western end of Water Street.

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