Test Drive - Page 7

with people who are homeless and may be dealing with mental health issues and addictions. “I believe a big part of what we do in the engagement piece is building a rapport and trust,” Larry says. “Individuals who have been living in shelters or living on the streets for a period of time can become very jaded. They may ask, ‘Why should I trust you? Why do you want to help me? I don’t get it; I don’t understand it.’ And so, building that rapport is essential and that takes a long time; it doesn’t happen overnight.” The SOS program practices a harm reduction approach to support, which means the focus is on the whole person and where they are at right now. It’s about what the individual wants to work on, whether that is their mental health, a job search, housing, income or their addictions. SOS coordinators focus on an individual’s strengths, their voice and values. However, stabilization is the key. As Larry says, the person must see value in their own goals and navigate toward obtaining them. If the individual does not believe in their own goals, this process will not work. They must also be ready. Since connecting with CMHA, Irish has obtained housing through a partner organization. After spending a number of years living on the street, the transition hasn’t been easy and can be quite overwhelming at times, but to him, it’s worth it. “I needed to do it; I needed my own security,” Irish says. “I guess that’s basically all I wanted was to get back to being half normal. I mean, I’m good on the street because people know me and respect me and all that kind of jazz, but it just got tiresome. I just wanted my own shelter, so to speak.” Despite the challenges tha Ё