“It has been awhile that we’ve been talking about getting official community response teams off the ground. It was a very busy summer,” said Amanda Bradshaw, a community mobilizer at CeaseFire Halifax.
The Halifax area experienced a spate of gun violence and gun deaths earlier this year. Bradshaw said the media attention from those incidents brought greater awareness to the community about CeaseFire Halifax and its mandate.
“We had a lot of people from the summer from barbecues that we had and different community events approaching us saying how can I get involved? I want to volunteer,” she said.
“We wanted to get it up off the ground in time for the cold weather so we’d have a space for everyone to congregate and talk about what’s going on in the community.”
Bradshaw said the community response teams will serve as a support system for CeaseFire Halifax. The four target communities include Dartmouth North, Uniacke Square, Mulgrave Park and North Preston.
“We are very connected with the community. Our staff members all come from the communities that we serve. But I know that everyone can relate that the more eyes and ears (you have), the more information you’re going to be receiving,” she said.
“If we can involve community members and give them a safe space to talk about what’s going on in the community without legal repercussions or judgement, then we want to be able to open up that space for them. And hopefully it will benefit our organization as well.”
Bradshaw said they plan to reach out to a broad spectrum of people and organizations that work with youth in the community.
She expects the conversations that happen with the community response teams and their varied membership will help CeaseFire reach even more youth and those at risk of becoming involved with violence.
“Basically we just want anyone and everyone who feels that this has impacted them to feel that they have an outlet and some place they can go where it is specifically dedicated to talking about how these issues have impacted us,” she said.
“Because I don’t think that there are many chances for them to specifically talk about these issues, and holding that inside is definitely not good for anyone.”
Wednesday night’s meeting for the community of Dartmouth North is being held at the Dartmouth North Community Centre at 6 p.m. There will be a meeting in Uniacke Square on Oct. 19, Mulgrave Park on Oct. 26 and in North Preston on Nov. 2. Meetings will then be held once a month in each location.