Second social worker to widen reach at Millennium Library

The Millennium Library now has a second in-house social worker, in hopes of widening its reach to help those in need.

Library services manager Ed Cuddy told CTV News a social worker was first hired in 2012 because of a growing number of serious incidents that general library staff weren’t equipped to deal with.

Bruce Fiske was brought on to potentially connect people with services like counselling, health care information, employment and income assistance and housing.

Fiske said through his work on Millennium’s second floor, he encounters people from all walks of life.

“I might see someone new to Winnipeg who just doesn’t know what to do; they could have just gotten off a bus. Someone who’s in crisis, someone who’s experiencing mental health issues due to meth abuse.”

People in need can make an appointment with Fiske and his new colleague Sheila Bughao via email or phone.

The two also walk around the library throughout the day to ask patrons how they’re doing or connect with people they think might need a hand.

Along with the work they do in the downtown core, both social workers are dispatched out to calls at 20 library branches around the city, and Fiske stressed that the need isn’t exclusive to Winnipeg’s vulnerable and at-risk population.

“All socioeconomic backgrounds are susceptible to addictions and addictions of many kinds.”

In recent weeks, both social workers have done extensive outreach to community organizations to ensure they have the necessary contacts when connecting people with support services.

They’re available from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

A social worker is also on shift Tuesday and Thursday between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Cuddy stressed the library is a public gathering space that needs to be open to all.

“We’re trying to be socially inclusive and that means everyone feels safe and welcome,” said Cuddy.