A Story of Hope

In the 5 years that I worked as a nurse with people who were experiencing homelessness, I met hundreds of individuals, but heard very few stories of recovery.  This is not because people don’t find a way forward from an experience of homelessness, but more likely because many find this by moving away.  All the time we would have individuals that we worked closely with just disappear, and we often never heard whether they were incarcerated, injured, moved away to a better situation, or simply moved on.  Because relationships can be a large part of what is negative in people’s lives, and what keeps people back, at times severing these relationships is the way forward.

That is why I was so touched when I received an email from a young lady in a nearby city.  She stated that she had been homeless and experiencing an addiction for many years in London, but was now in recovery and working in the social services elsewhere.  We met for a coffee and she shared her ideas for giving back to London, and confronting some of the barriers that she faced in trying to recover here.  It was very heartwarming to hear a story of things getting better, and hearing hope for others.  It made me think back of many of the people I knew so well and wonder how they are doing today.

On a practical, policy side, this meeting made me reflect on the importance of spreading social housing throughout a city.  If the first step out of homelessness involves keeping people in the midst of the community where they suffered, this can be a set back for many people.  Instead, moving to another neighbourhood in the same city allows people to be close to friends and family, but away from the centre of their challenges, particularly in the case of addictions.

One thought on “A Story of Hope

  1. One of my neighbours growing up had a man living in their basement who was very much a part of their family. His name was Frank and over the years he became our friend and my mom would have him for dinner and bake him cinnamon rolls because he gave her so much praise about it. He looked and spoke like Mr. Magoo and as kids we thought he was hilarious.

    We really liked Frank because he was such a funny character and as time passed we learned about his story. I guess our neighbour got talking with him and used to meet him downtown when he was homeless. It shocked the neighbour to find out that Frank had been an accomplished jazz musician at one time among other qualities that he had and was living on the street. Frank was invited to live with the neighbour and did so for many years.

    Mental illness is still mental illness and eventually there was a time when Frank would see my mother and mumble something about a sore on his leg. Being in the medical field for such a long time she told him to go to the doctor and get the sore checked out becuase it really hadn’t been taken care of properly.

    Frank was in the hospital by my mom’s work and she visited him every day. He was very sick due to the infection and skinny as a rake. When we went to visit him he asked us to bring him dounuts, he didn’t have a lot of visitors. I went to visit Frank in the hospital and we brought him the dounuts. He died a week later.

    My reason for posting this story is because of the impact it had on me. Having someone who struggles with mental illness in your life can really help people be more compassionate towards others. There is a thick divide in our city and if there could be a little more understanding for those less fortunate then it could be thinned out. We think of money as an obstacle in our daily lives but the real thing that we should be happy to have is the capability to know what we need and how to get it. When we need to shower we just know; when we need to spend money on food instead of alcohol or lottery tickets we just know; when we need to go to the doctor or clean a cut or wound we know to do it and when. “Keeping people in the midst of the community.” I fully agree.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *