Social service agencies join forces

Two Langley-area non-profits are merging to eliminate overlap.

Two of Langley’s biggest social services organizations are merging this fall.

Langley Community Services Society (LCSS) and Encompass Support Services Society will be joining forces, their board chairs say.

The chairs of the two groups, Sherry Baker for Encompass and Wayne Wiebe for LCSS, are looking forward to the merger.

“We won’t be competing with each other,” Baker said.

In the past, there were a few times when both groups would seek the same grants for similar projects.

Wiebe noted that not only will it end any competition, with a larger agency, they can afford to hire people for certain new positions that neither could afford independently.

The two groups have often worked together before.

“Both organizations complement each other,” said Sanjeev Nand, executive direct of LCSS. He’ll stay in that role for the new, larger organization, while Lynne Topham, executive director of Encompass, becomes associate director of the new organization.

The boards and chairs of the two groups have been talking about the merger for several months, and decided it was the best way to increase their ability to serve local residents.

The two agencies offer everything from mental health aid to family counselling, help finding jobs to immigrant support. Encompass is currently building a new youth centre that will include a host of services, including the first local youth homeless shelter. LCSS has been at the forefront of helping Syrian refugees settle in Langley, though that is only a small part of the group’s overall work.

Topham notes that both groups – along with Stepping Stone and the Gateway of Hope – are working to help provide the new Intensive Case Management team, which will be aimed at helping the homeless and those at risk of homeless to get permanent housing.

The groups won’t be laying off any staff or shutting down any facilities. They need all the staff and space they can get.

The other thing they’ll need soon is a new name.

The organizations are asking their staff for help coming up with one as they work towards finalizing the merger.