Over ten years of walking alongside families using the wraparound process, I find the focus of my work has changed. I communicate via text messaging; kijiji and computer net searching consumes alot of my time as I search to meet needs for our wraparound families, whose anxiety and desperation creates forgetfulness. Their mental health needs skyrocket! Ten years ago, I had the luxury of dealing with people's pain that had caused their mental health issues but today we are responding the the very basic needs, with no time to get to the root causes or helping with their pain.
My office cupboard now has food storage and diapers. Our volunteers help with searching for new accommodation, beds, attending doctors appointments and becoming family/friends to many isolated in our communities. We are approaching local social service agencies for help with bed bugs and replacement furniture. Some of this is a new trend, as we help to build hope and a better life through the expansion of our volunteer initiative. There are many families who could use a wrapround team, in our city. With a World Vision grant--Partnering to End Child Poverty, we are doing just that walking and running alongside....as fast as we can!
A recent publication of our local Social Planning and Research Council-Hamilton's Social Landscape Bulletin May 2012, indicates that the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic has cited that upcoming changes to the provincial Community Start-up and Maintenance Benefit will make it harder to establish a home, prevent eviction and utlity cut off. This will lead to an increase in homelessness for Hamilton's most vulnerable families. WrapAround Hamilton has definitely been feeling and seeing these trends while journeying with our families, even prior to the publication of this report.
This is a time now-more than ever before-where working in partnership whether non-profit, volunteer, faith based organizations or municipalities is necessary. It is also important despite the pressures on us, that we remember whose voice and choice should be present always--the person we are helping. Time to break down barriers to help families before they become desperate. People should not be shamed but need to be listened to and heard, before we make plans for their lives.
I recently attended a meeting where it was determined that this organization would not help to obtain car seats for a father visiting with his children because they had "purchased" a dog. It was a very shaming experience, as I sat and listened, as no one asked where the monies had come from or whether the dog was actually a gift. So instead the helping agency punished them. The outcome had been for this father to be able to have current car seats for visits with his children, that volunteers needed to help with the vists. People are human; make mistakes and shouldn't it be our community's goal to understand and help our neighbour! In this case a grandmother would make sure the children had car seats. This young man's parents had been the Children's Aid Society. The very people who sat, judged and shamed. Trust me when I say, I'm not blaming the Children's Aid, this is only one example of organizations during tough times making decisions that if we worked together could have been overcome. Tough times call for cooperative and creative efforts.