Despite government funding cuts, the Gang Action Interagency Network (GAIN) has moved forward to launch a Winnipeg-based strategy, Bridging the Gaps: Solutions to Winnipeg Gangs.

GAIN is "a network of about 180 organizations from community, government, and law enforcement all working on grassroots solutions to the gang problem here in Winnipeg," Robyn Dryden, the coordinator of GAIN explains. "We've been around for about 8 or 10 years or so but this is the first year that we've had a paid staff position."

The strategy launched this week is a three-pronged approach looking at prevention, intervention, and suppression to address the issue of gangs in the city.

"I think prevention and intervention are really important, there's a lot of good prevention work that happens but there's not a lot of intervention work. So for example, right now if someone were to call me and say they were looking to exit a gang, there's not a lot I can do in that moment. There are a couple of good people doing ad hoc work throughout the city but nothing formalized. So part of what this strategy outlines is an actual almost flow chart, if you will, of how we can wrap around an individual who is looking to exit a gang."

This would mean helping the individual with what they most require such as basic needs, immediate safety concerns, immediate housing, immediate mental health and addiction supports, then moving into long term needs such as employment, mentorship, and access to recreation.

"One organization isn't capable of doing everything in the city, so it's really nice that we do have that collaborative framework that organizations around the city can all come together and kind of throw in what they can do to help so we can really wrap around a person."

Doing what they do has just recently become more difficult as the government has now cut all of their funding. This means that they will have to push their original goals and timelines back in order to spend some time fundraising. Dryden is still staying positive through this difficult news.

 "I think GAIN will exist regardless if the province or the city decide not to come back to the table. We have existed for 10 years without funding. There's a lot of really dedicated people in this city who are part of this network who really would like to see positive change happen and they're the driving forces behind it for sure."

With an estimated 1400-1500 active youth street gangs members in Winnipeg, GAIN continues to work toward implementing actionable steps toward tangible goals to especially assist youth ages 6 through 29 who may be at risk of getting involved in gangs, or who need a way out. 

GAIN hopes this strategy launch with spur dialogue and action in addressing this major issue that affects our city.

There will be a full network meeting June 14 at 1:00 pm at 430 Langside. Everyone is welcome to attend to learn more information or to see if they would like to participate in the organization. 

View the summary of the strategies just launched by GAIN here.


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