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The original item was published from 10/26/2016 2:14:55 PM to 11/2/2016 12:00:02 AM.

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Butte-Silver Bow

Posted on: October 26, 2016

[ARCHIVED] Homeless coalition sponsors workshop for retailers dealing with unsettling situations

The Southwest Montana Continuum of Care Coalition is sponsoring a free workshop for area merchants that will educate how retailers can manage unsettling situations, including those involving aggressive panhandlers, and work in a proactive and positive manner to prevent such situations from escalating and affecting business operations.
The one-hour training will be held Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 9 a.m. at the Butte Archives conference room. The training will be facilitated by Lyn Ankelman, EdD, a licensed clinical professional counselor and certified mental health professional who works as a regional clinical director for Western Montana Mental Health Center. Ankelman’s training will focus on how merchants can navigate through a variety of unsettling situations, whether those situations involve a homeless individual, a mentally ill person, a homeless person or a member of the general public.
“Because they deal with all segments of the general public, retailers should think about and plan for unsettling events and how they can effectively deal with them,” Ankelman said. “I think it’s important for our merchants to know what behaviors can be defined as unsettling, that reacting to these behaviors with fear is natural, and that there are ways to minimize our fears and de-escalate unsettling behaviors.”
The training comes at a time when several Uptown Butte merchants have complained about aggressive panhandling in the area and how panhandling is negatively impacting their operations. Recent meetings facilitated by Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Matt Vincent and Sheriff Ed Lester culminated with the Continuum of Care Coalition, which focuses on issues related to homelessness, agreeing to assist in developing solutions. These solutions include educating the public and merchants about panhandling, and informing retailers about how to manage difficult situations.
“Communities throughout the country working to manage panhandling and its impact have developed solutions to dissuade the practice,” said Margie Seccomb, the coalition’s co-chair. “Part of this is educating the public about why panhandling helps no one, including the panhandler. Ensuring that people in need receive the critical services they really need, and collaborating to ensure the vibrancy and safety of our downtowns is what we’re all really after.”
The coalition has developed a four-point plan that includes a project focused on educating about panhandling and how members of the public who want to assist have a variety of meaningful alternatives to giving money to a panhandler. Laminated cards have been developed detailing for the general public, merchants and panhandlers where panhandlers and others in need can locate medical services, mental health services, housing, utility assistance, food and other resources.

Posters also have been developed and will be distributed for merchants to display in their windows. The posters advise people to “keep the change” they would give to panhandlers and instead contribute to a solution that will actually assist panhandlers, homeless individuals and other people in need of assistance. The posters invite the public into the retail outlet, where they will be informed about how to donate to the We Deliver Lunch Partnership, which delivers sack lunches three times weekly to five locations in Butte.
The We Deliver Partnership is a collaboration of Action, Inc., the Butte Rescue Mission, CCCS, Inc., the Public Housing Authority of Butte, Western Montana Mental Health Center and local church groups. Donations may be made at Action, Inc., 25 W. Silver St., or at
The coalition’s comprehensive four-point plan to better meet the needs of panhandlers, homeless individuals, mentally ill people and others who interact with the general public on the streets is detailed below – all of the initiatives have been accomplished or in process:
• Public education
o Training to business owners
o Public education, including posters and PSA’s to build awareness
• Direct outreach from service and treatment agencies
o Intensified outreach by case managers
o Provide business owners with laminated cards featuring contact information for available services
• Law enforcement support
o Increased food patrols in the Uptown Butte area
o Case managers from service agencies will accompany officers to help educate and build trust
• Develop a donation option for people who want to help
For more information contact Margie Seccomb at (406) 533-6874

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