St. Paul’s Anglican Church Advocacy Office provides help and support to anyone in difficulty. Welfare, housing, food access, legal issues, accommodation problems, or access to government services are all addressed by caring volunteers who meet one-on-one with clients to work together to solve the problems. This is a free service that St. Paul’s offers as part of its ministry to the community at large. The Advocacy Office was founded in 1995.
What does it do?
The Advocacy Office provides free information and support to persons needing access to social services. Clients bring various needs, ranging from welfare applications, crisis grant application, health care issues, short- and long-term housing problems, legal aid, and more.
Advocacy Office workers direct clients to appropriate agencies, provide them with information, based upon which they can decide how to deal with the issues they encounter, and if necessary workers can mediate on behalf of clients to restore services. Advocates will also represent clients at tribunals and speak on behalf of clients with various government agencies. The Advocacy Office does not provide money, food, clothes, or material assistance.
There is a computer with Internet access for use by the public available at the Advocacy Office. Here people can get information from government agencies and social services, and download all kinds of application forms.
Who does the work?
The Advocacy Office is supervised by Ellen Silvergieter, director, who is also a member of St Paul’s parish staff. The advocates are volunteers, people of different ages, university students and working people, who care and commit themselves to helping people. Other volunteers work as our “face” at the reception, taking phone calls, making appointments, and making coffee and tea for the clients.
The work of the Advocacy Office is discussed with a lawyer on a regular basis, in order to make sure that our advice and procedures are adequate and in line with the newest developments in laws and social services.
Who are the clients?
They are men and women, young and old, of any faith. They all share a common need for friendly help and support. People come to the Advocacy Office from all over the Lower Mainland. In the last year, we helped almost 1000 individuals! Most clients are residents of the West End or other downtown areas, but numerous people from the Greater Vancouver Area also find their way to our office, and some come or call from as far as 100 Mile House and Victoria. St. Paul’s Advocacy Office has a broad knowledge base and offers a wide range of services that is not always available in other parts of the Greater Vancouver Area. Also, we are open for all people and do not focus on specific issues or specific groups.
How is the Advocacy Office financed?
Our parish provides a significant part of the funds needed to operate the Advocacy Office as part of St. Paul’s Anglican Church’s commitment to reach out into the community.
We look to the larger community for the other money needed. Individual donors have given generously; institutions also support us. Recently, the Law Society of Vancouver has given us a grant to install the computer that provides public internet access at the Advocacy Office.
What can you do to help?
Keep an eye on this website for fundraising activities. If you want to become a volunteer, please contact us via the telephone numbers listed below:
For appointments, information about volunteering, etc.:
tel: 604 683 4287
fax: 604 683 3109