Peter Naylor is a direct engagement shelter-based case manager with the Housing Department of The Mission. ‘Direct’ means that Peter is a member of the team that is “engagement-focused with the gentlemen who come to the door looking for a helping hand.” Peter supports the guests who have been in the shelter for six months or more, beginning with what he calls “a process of gentle engagement to determine what can be done to help them move forward.”
The average stay in the shelter is roughly 14 days. However, 180 days in the shelter combined with high needs means it is time to meet with Peter to determine a course of action. 90% of his caseload arrive with some sort of mental health challenge. Addiction and mental health-focused issues, or, in many cases, a combination of interconnected issues, must be addressed before moving on to housing and financial support.
Trust is Peter’s number one goal, because trust is essential to formulating a collaborative plan of recovery and stability. “Nothing is forced,” he says, “and the guest must be genuinely on-board every step of the way.” There is no moving forward until there is readiness, and that can take a tremendous amount of time, but it is the only path to success.
Peter is pleased to report that one guest, a gentleman entering his retirement years, has recently moved into an apartment of his own. “This fellow had maybe 10 years of homelessness behind him. He was addicted to alcohol, but that has been greatly controlled, which is amazing, and he feels a lot better for it,” Peter says. “He is finally able to leave the streets behind and retire in dignity.”
There is a severe depression and anxiety component to this gentleman’s story, so moving into a new home, especially during COVID, only amplifies his stress, but Peter is confident that with ongoing support, he will achieve stability. The gentleman has been connected to a worker at The Canadian Mental Health A ssociation, staff at Ottawa City Housing, and, of course, Peter continues to be a positive presence in his life.
Your generous donation supports so many people on the path to a new home. Peter reports that you can see the hope in their eyes when they open that door for the first time. Thank you for your kindness.