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Charitable Choices: Lin Sallay of Street Health – Toronto Guardian

May 28, 2024

Lin Sallay leads Street Health, a vital organization supporting the city’s homeless and marginalized communities since 1986. With a mission rooted in harm reduction and compassionate care, Street Health offers essential services ranging from primary healthcare to housing support. Under Sallay’s guidance, the organization continues to adapt and expand its reach, advocating for systemic change and amplifying the voices of those in need.

Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.

Street Health’s story began back in 1986 when people living on the streets voiced a clear preference for nurses as their trusted healthcare providers. This inspired a group of volunteer nurses to kickstart clinics, eventually laying the foundation for Street Health. We’ve always been deeply committed to a harm reduction approach to our services, focusing on dismantling the systemic barriers to health.

Our services cover a wide array of essential aspects, ranging from community mental health support and helping with identification documents to providing secure mailing addresses for those dealing with housing insecurity. We offer welcoming harm reduction drop-ins, engaging community volunteer kit-making sessions, and education programs. Our outreach workers, who include people who bring lived experience to their role, connect with people across the downtown East region, for example at encampments, at temporary shelters, and in parks/on the streets. They not only address immediate needs but also challenge the discrimination and stigma that can discourage individuals from seeking healthcare. In 2019, we opened an Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) and have added a Safer Opioid Supply program, which helps clients reduce or replace their dependence on the poison street drug supply. This initiative is a lifeline for our clients, offering them a way to reduce or replace their reliance on the dangerous street drug supply, leading to safer and healthier lives. In addition, our housing support workers are also instrumental in helping those accessing housing through St.Clare’s maintain their housing, supporting housing stability. We also make a positive impact on our community by providing essential personal care and hygiene products, in addition to seasonal necessities.

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