New Home, New Hope

Robert wears hat with sunglasses. Has goatee

When Robert, 54, was first released from prison, he had nowhere to go and found himself living on the streets for two years. Now, thanks to support from The Salvation Army’s Booth Centre in Ottawa, he is living in his own apartment, making changes in his life and focusing on his future.

“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired,” says Robert. “My goal is to move forward and not die in a cell.”

Robert, who faces a number of challenges, is working hard with the help of the centre’s Housing Response Team to maintain a stable lifestyle.  He attends counselling sessions and participates in an addiction program in the community.  He is learning life skills at the centre such as doing laundry and managing his money.

Support from The Housing Response Team is offered to all clients for at least a year depending on their individual needs. Case managers meet regularly with clients in their new homes to assist with the often difficult transition away from life on the street by connecting them to resources in the community.

“We make sure their new home is tidy, their activities are meaningful and that they have access to services in the community such as mental health and addictions programs.  We help fill prescriptions, assist with groceries when needed, offer clothing vouchers and bus passes or even just meet for coffee to check in and see how things are going,” says Kristen, a housing response team worker.

Robert says he has known about the work of The Salvation Army for a long time. He had encountered members while in prison and he says his father was involved in the organization too.

“I can’t say enough about The Salvation Army and about the good they do, I really mean that,” he said, “The Salvation Army helps me be accountable and has given me a social group. It’s just the best organization I have ever been involved with.”

By Caroline Franks