Haircut and a blood pressure check: Free event offers help to homeless on P.E.I.

Dozens of people have already signed up for an event Thursday that connects Islanders who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless with helpful goods and services including blood pressure and blood sugar checks, haircuts and spring clothing. 

The free event at the Jack Blanchard Family Centre in Charlottetown runs from 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and includes a free hot meal.

"[It's] just kind of providing services and opportunities and personal items that maybe people might not have the necessary monetary funds to be able to get themselves," said event organizer Krista Shaw.

The Homeless Partnering Strategy held two similar events last year in Charlottetown and Summerside, P.E.I., and wanted to build on that success. 

"People were excited when they walked in," said Shaw, adding there was particular enthusiasm for the hot meal and warm clothes. "They just felt like it was a nice event for them." 

Last year 40 people attended, and this year 60 have registered — though Shaw said registration is not required. 

"The service agencies that attended really thought they made some positive connections, and we wanted to make sure that ball kept rolling," added Shaw. 

The Canada Revenue Agency will have staff available to talk about income tax supports and pensions, and the Boys and Girls Club will discuss its free G.E.D. tutoring program. There will also be free dental advice and foot care. 

"Sometimes that's the biggest barrier for people, they don't know what's out there and how to connect themselves," Shaw said. 

Number hard to pin down

Figuring out the exact number of Islanders who are homeless is difficult, Shaw said. 

"The biggest thing here is couch surfers," she said. 

"We tend to open our arms, and take people in so they don't really get counted," she said. "I think it's a little bit more widespread than the public actually thinks." 

If getting to the event is an issue, T3 Transit will offer free rides to and from the centre. 

- MORE P.E.I. NEWS I Bruce and Boomer's goodbye party moves to bigger venue

- MORE P.E.I. NEWS I P.E.I. snow crab fishery launches Tuesday