New Interim Managing Director of London CAReS

Veteran social services Executive Director, Brian Lester, to bring enhanced model to important homelessness alleviation program

LONDON, ON – June 28, 2016 – In an effort to further strengthen the health and housing outcomes of individuals experiencing homelessness, London’s most successful homelessness reduction program has appointed Brian Lester as interim Managing Director.

The move is the result of a recent strategy for evolution from a shared collaborative governance structure from the original founding partners – Addiction Services Thames Valley, The Unity Project and the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection. Today, the partners announced a secondment agreement for Lester to provide full time oversight and leadership of London CAReS, stepping away temporarily from his role as RHAC Executive Director.

“By ensuring stability, dignity and safety for our community’s most at-risk citizens, London CAReS helps alleviate the strain on our local health and social services, and ultimately helps save lives,” says Lester. “This enhanced approach to governance and leadership is essential to ensuring that important work continues.”

Beginning as a pilot project in 2008, the five-year Housing First experiment came to an end in January 2014, when, due to the overwhelming success of the pilot, London City Council approved ongoing funding for London CAReS.

Today London CAReS has more than 40 staff leading street outreach and housing stability initiatives that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in an approach that has ended homelessness for more than 145 people in London.

“We started as a pilot project nearly 10 years ago. We’re no longer a small program, we’re an organization and our governance and leadership models need to evolve to reflect our success and growth so we can continue to best serve our community’s most vulnerable,” added Lester.

Recent collaborative work on the CAReS governance, leadership and service delivery models has been supported by Dr. John Whitesell, an expert in organizational strategy and change, whose work is
recognized across North America and around the world. Dr. Whitesell also co-wrote the London Community Housing Strategy and Plan on Homelessness.
Lester’s appointment as interim Managing Director is effective July 4th.

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MLHU Community Drug Strategy

crystal meth

The London Homeless Coalition heard a brief presentation from the co-chairs of a local community drug strategy at our May 2, 2016 general meeting.

From the meeting minutes: Community meetings were held in November 2015 and January 2016 and resulted in agreement that a four pillar approach of prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and enforcement was an appropriate framework to use for a community drug strategy within Middlesex and London. The strategy is led by Middlesex London Health Unit and is broadly focused on drugs and alcohol. A steering committee has been established and is co-chaired by Brian Lester (Regional HIV AIDS Connection (RHAC)) and Muriel Abbott (Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU)). Communication, collaboration and finding an effective balance between task and process are crucial as the project moves forward. The plan is for pillar groups to be initiated by the end of June with planning getting underway in the fall.

There is still opportunity for individuals to join a pillar work group. If interested, contact Muriel Abbott, at or 519-663-5317, ext. 2223.

Why is this issue important for homeless prevention advocacy?
Use of street drugs such as crystal meth seems to be on the rise on the London area, and has an impact on the health and safety of people experiencing poverty, as well as on local health care and corrections costs required to address the issue. Below are some online articles and reports that outline the history of the issue.