For those in our communities who experience physical, social or economic barriers, accessing life-changing services can be a confusing and daunting task. The Penticton and Area Access Centre is working hard to change that, using the principles of action, awareness, advocacy and equity to help people navigate complex social systems.
“The barriers facing people who are seeking help from the Access Centre often feel very overwhelming to them,” says Brandi Beckett, Executive Director. “We believe the people we help deserve someone in their corner who says “we’ll figure this out together.””
When a person visits or calls the Access Centre for assistance, the team member who will greet them is their Triage Receptionist — a staff role the Community Foundation has funded for several years through its grant program. The receptionist is an extremely important first point of contact for those seeking help: clarifying their needs, directing them to the right avenue of support and ensuring they are well prepared for subsequent meetings with the Centre’s advocates. The receptionist also has a positive impact on the Centre’s responsiveness by ensuring requests for help are addressed according to their level of urgency.
Perhaps most importantly, the receptionist provides valuable social and emotional support by helping to diffuse much of the anxiety and frustration people experience when trying to navigate access to services on their own. “By providing knowledgeable assessment of the circumstances surrounding each person’s request for help, the receptionist can quickly calm the situation and move it from uncertainty towards action,” Brandi says.
In 2022, The Access Centre provided help to over 5,000 individuals seeking assistance with a variety of needs including tax filing, poverty and family law concerns, and applications for disability supports. For more information about the Centre and its services, please visit their website.