Who we are
6 St Joseph House is in a unique position because of the trust it builds with individuals in need of help. They find hospitality and meet others on a similar journey to find income, housing and food; but the challenge is to find friends who can accompany individuals to access community resources and get help they need. Our empowering friendship model that instills dignity and trust is often the catalyst necessary to allow people the space to make positive decisions to access resources & help so they can make change that will have a lasting effect.
‘Life Friends’ is a program that builds on our efforts to respond to the need to accompany individuals living in vulnerable circumstances. We have already seen a number of examples of such partnerships where there have been positive results, with mutually beneficial friendships. This program also builds on work of Dion Oxford at Gateway Hostel – where he is nurturing a program called ‘Causeway’ for intentionally connecting members of local faith groups with people who were recently homeless but are beginning a new life. Dion has offered to assist us with training potential mentors.
Dion talks about how the Causeway program ‘came out of an ongoing awareness of the fact that many of the men and women who leave shelters and find housing end up feeling isolated and alone in their new apartments. Ultimately, many lose their housing for one reason or another stemming from that loneliness. They then end up back in the shelter system because it’s the closest thing to ‘home’ that they know. This is mostly due to the fact that while they live in shelters they have community, but when they move into their own apartments, they are all alone with no friends or family and no idea how to begin finding community in their neighbourhood.
"...men and women who leave shelters and find housing end up feeling isolated and alone in their new apartments....They then end up back in the shelter system because it’s the closest thing to ‘home’ that they know."
Dion also hears from many people who ask, ‘How do we get involved in helping those who are homeless?’ There is a stirring in people’s souls that they want to do something about injustice and poverty but they really do not know what that can look like while they have jobs and family responsibilities. They want to roll up their sleeves and help, but don’t know where to start.
At 6 St Joseph House we have many people who do not even receive social assistance and have mental health challenges. Efforts to assist these individuals is more difficult because of the highly regulated environment of our social assistance and mental health systems. It has been our experience that it has taken 6 to 8 frustrating attempts at admitting women suffering serious trauma before they stay for a sufficient amount of time to receive the treatment they need to stabilize and be ready for long-term support. It is important for the M-Dot team to have their clients living in a stable environment rather than on the street or in a shelter in order to do effective follow up with these individuals; and health workers looks to us to provide stable housing at this crucial time.
Our community and peer-support model can provide women with immediate accommodation, and by working with supportive housing providers such as Houselink, we can help transition the individuals to long-term housing as their condition improves, and as they gain the trust of those around them to accept the help they need.
We have seen individuals whose lives have completely turned around, and it would not have happened without the trust building and support of our community efforts, integrated with the outreach efforts of social agencies and the collaborative psychiatric support at CAMH and other hospitals. These individuals are no longer part of the revolving door of continual hospital admission and are living full lives, giving back to the community. The challenge is that there are many more individuals who need this integrated approach.