By Guest Blogger: Karen Lee
Meet Paul – a 52 year old man I met at Bissell Centre’s Drop-In. Once upon a time Paul was financially comfortable. He worked for nine years as a journeyman tinsmith making $34 an hour. He had a place to live and didn’t have to worry about the next meal. But all that changed when he got into an unfortunate accident at work in 2008, which left him with severely injured hands and an amputated finger. After six major reconstructive surgeries over the past three years Paul still doesn’t have full usage of his hands, and today he is one of the many homeless people living in the inner city.
Paul blames the Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB) for his current situation. Paul is currently receiving $648 a month from them for his accident, which he says will run out in July. Understandably, he is angry and frustrated. Paul has been working all of his life but now he isn’t able to afford a place to live. For about a year Paul has been living on the streets and using inner city organizations like Bissell Centre to just get by on a daily basis. At Bissell he relies on the Casual Labour Program to make some extra money.
Up until recently Paul was receiving $1,856 per month for the past three years until WCB told him he is ready to return to work. According to Paul, he is unable to return to work as a tinsmith because he lost the dexterity he once had in his hands. He estimates that he can only do a third of the work he once did. He was also diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) about a year and half ago.
Paul is uncertain about his future. He doesn’t know if he can recover from his PTSD. Finding work has been difficult for him, he even tried training for other types of work through Bissell’s Employment Program, but his PTSD makes it challenging for him to remember the skills and information taught to him.
As my meeting with him concludes, I wonder how Paul’s story will end. He told me he will continue to fight the WCB’s decision to cease his compensation. I hope it works out for him. Until then, he will continue his daily visits to Bissell to eat, do laundry, make phone calls, for emotional support and other necessities.
Find out more about Employment Services.
Here’s what you can do.
Joe* came to Edmonton from a town in rural Alberta. He was new to the city and cautious about connecting with support. He spent a couple of weeks just staying in the inner city utilizing the shelters. Homeless, just released from the Remand Centre, and not keen on going back to the town he came from his relationship with family was strained and resources back home were limited.
Joe was referred to Bissell Centre’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum of Services (FASS) program and was immediately connected with Bissell’s housing program, Homeless to Homes. Still having some unfinished legal matters to deal with and in jeopardy of going back to the correctional system, Bissell’s FASS Advocate began timely and consistent support.
The two attended his court appearance; Joe could have pleaded guilty to his charges and asked for a trial however he wanted to face them and was totally prepared to deal with any consequences. He spoke very well on his own behalf and his FASS program support person also spoke to his own commitment. The advocate confirmed the supports offered at Bissell Centre and Joe’s willingness to participate. The judge took this into consideration and suggested that Joe continue with the program, his goals and to report back in a couple of months.
Joe acted on his opportunities and with the advice of his advocate successfully completed a work program at Bissell Centre. He also kept up his contact with his advocate and added to his repertoire of resources such as the Fee Reduction program through the City of Edmonton Recreation. He also started participating in the Friday afternoon floor hockey program. The judge that proceeded over his court case was very impressed with Joe’s efforts and his willingness to better himself. This resulted in no more court appearances. Since then Joes has been to see his sister and her family and is now in line to attend a fork lift certification program. He truly has helped himself by taking advantage of the support offered, recognizing his opportunities and putting the effort into his goals he had set up with his FASS advocate.
*Name has been changed to protect their identity.
| For more information on our FASS program |
To book your free FASD presentation contact:
FASD Community Educator
Office: 780.423.2285, ext 157
Bissell Centre and EFAN have teamed up to create a new educational video on FASD along with a music video and ring tone.
Join us at the new EPCOR tower lobby at 10423 101 Street on April 19th at the Volunteer Fair and FASD video launch event from 11am – 1:30pm.
“I try my best. Everything I do is for my kids. And to look after my kids, I have to look after myself.”
Anna’s* face lights up when she talks about the plans she has for her family’s future. A proud, young, single mother and provider for four (three kids and a younger brother), she came to Bissell Centre in September looking for help supporting her young family.
The rising financial burdens of life in Edmonton meant that Anna was looking for resources to improve her family’s wellbeing. Last fall, she was referred to Bissell Centre by a friend who had participated in our Parenting Plus Program – a free, weekly service for parents like Anna to learn parenting skills, share stories and gain vital social supports.
Thanks to Bissell Centre’s network of services, her children were able to attend our free child care and Anna was able to join Parenting Plus herself.
“My baby’s face lights up whenever she sees the staff. It’s her favorite daycare.”
Anna was ready for a better job. To raise her family, she has to rely on income supports that are shrinking in value. The Women’s Pre-Employment Program was created to give women the skills to earn a decent living. It wasn’t long before Anna decided to join and improve her family’s livelihood.
“I had worked in trades for four months, but had to give up once I became pregnant.”
Since completing her job skills training at Bissell, Anna has signed up for a professional 17-week course for women in trades. With looming labour shortages, she is in an excellent position to earn a better income for herself and best-of-all, her children.
Because of your support, families like Anna’s can look forward to a better future.
About our donors, Anna says, “I think that it’s really good what you’ve done. You’re really generous, especially to people that you don’t know.”
With compassion and training, families can move from daily hardship to prosperity.
Thank-you for providing new beginnings for families across the community.
*Names have been changed to protect family privacy.
Story taken from our most recent newletter.
– Story by Bissell Centre Drop-in Staff Member
A gentleman came into the drop-in about 8 weeks ago. He approached me and asked about several of our programs. Further discussion revealed he is a recovering alcoholic that had relapsed for the last four months and lost his home and job.
We met daily for three weeks when he decided to detox and head to AA to resume work with his sponsor. I encouraged him in this and provided bus tickets. Two more weeks passed and he regained his sobriety. He remained sober despite many stressors and I encouraged him daily with affirmations and active listening. Last week he told me he wanted to go try out for a job. I encouraged him and offered tickets to get him to the appointment.
He has good skills and believed this would assist him to get back into an apartment and off the street. He seemed to me to be a very motivated individual so I believed him about the interview. We role played and I tried to be as supportive as possible. Friday last week he came into the drop-in beaming. He was offered a job! It was very apparent how happy he was when he showed me his letter of offer for a very well paid position. I coached him around self confidence and gave some referrals for assistance with addictions when working.
He thanked me and asked about housing. I referred him to our Adult Support progam and instructed him as to what he needed to do to get funds for the first month’s rent and some start up funds for returning to work. Today I saw him and he showed me the copy of his lease. He moves in the 25th of January and starts his new job the 23rd. I am very happy for him. He told me he could not have done it without me. I told him I could not have done “it” were HE not so motivated and skilled and in the end it was he not me that “done it”. He promised to send a postcard to the Bissell from his first international posting. BRAVO!!!