People don’t want to be homeless. Yet thousands of Canadians are one paycheck away, one crisis or one unpaid bill away from becoming homeless.
World Homeless Day, October 10, raises awareness of the issues facing people who are experiencing homelessness and encourages the public to take action to make a difference.
When Vince and his girlfriend of seven years parted ways, he was suddenly homeless.
“The breakup left me angry, hopeless and I felt worthless,” says Vince. “I fell into a deep, dark depression and ended up in the psychiatric ward. When I was ready to leave I had no place to go. My family all lived in different provinces and I needed to stay away from toxic friends. Then I heard about The Salvation Army’s shelter for men. ”
The Salvation Army Compass House in Penticton, B.C., is an emergency shelter that provides personal assistance, counselling services, referrals for addictions programs, employment, housing, education, and other community service providers.
“Vince needed a lot of support when he arrived,” says Sarah Campbell, Caseworker. “Most people who come through our doors need more than a bed. We work with them to establish goals and connect them with other agencies to help them achieve them.”
With the help of Salvation Army staff, Vince established goals and has been successful at achieving them. Taking medication regularly helps his anxiety. Anger management controls his reactions. Encouragement has boosted his self-confidence and housing assistance has provided stability.
“Finding a permanent place to live was tough,” says Vince. “My teeth were removed for denture work and I have lots of tattoos. Because of the way I looked a lot of doors were shut. The Salvation Army advocated for me and I found an apartment.
“It still upsets me when I think about when I was homeless,” says Vince. “Before I heard about the shelter, I contemplated suicide. The Salvation Army’s support has given me a chance at a better life. I couldn’t ask for more.”