The people we serve have rich stories of their own that they generously allow us to share from time to time. Here are some of those stories.

Burning Love Designs

The Cridge Centre for the Family’s Brain Injury Services is proud to share a new initiative for brain injury survivors. Burning Love Designs is delighted to have the opportunity to offer brain injury survivors a solution to finding more creative, cognitive and beneficial projects to engage while also being employed part-time. 

All employees have fairly similar knowledge and experience when dealing with the specific material needed for this project. They all share common creative ideas for the selling and manufacturing of these items. Burning Love Inc. has the potential to offer brain injury survivors part-time employment while improving their cognitive, social and physical skills. We currently have several members who are keen to be involved with this project; they began in Aug 2020 and will continue until January 2021. 

This program of artistic expression will aid in the recovery process by allowing brain injury survivors to do something they enjoy and are passionate about. When utilizing art therapy as a treatment intervention, Burning Love Inc. employees work on various functional skills such as fine motor skills, gross motor skills, endurance, communication, expression of feelings, relaxation, socialization, memory and problem-solving skills.

Calder McCormick, the production manager of Burning Love, is proof that sometimes the best medicine doesn’t just come from the pharmacy or a doctor. Sometimes the best medicine comes in the form of attention, conversation and connection to other people who have experienced the same challenges and are working toward a common goal.

Calder has flourished since deservingly earning this big responsibility.

Dr. Bonnie Henry inspired signs and coasters will highlight one of the most popular phrases in the recent history of British Columbia. The quote “Be Kind, Calm and Safe” will be engraved using the clients’ wood-burning skills to commemorate an unforgettable 2020.

 

If you have any questions or would like to order a sign for the holidays, just e-mail Calder at caldermccormick1@yahoo.com

Signs are $20 each and can be picked up at Mary Cridge Manor, 1172 Yates St. Order early!

When Help is Hard to Ask For

A mom recently contacted us in need of support and who had struggled to reach out in the past. She has been the only parent to her son with autism since he was born while also trying to help a sibling with a mental health diagnosis. She’s done it all, with no other support.

This mom was having the damaged floor replaced after a year of being unable to use the living room in their rental. It meant that they were unable to stay home during the time of repair. Thankfully, she could find somebody to have her son overnight, but she needed somewhere for herself to go. This mom reached out to us hoping to have her Respitality stay in September on the date she needed to be away from home. Unfortunately, all of our available rooms were already booked for September. And yet, we have fantastic hotel partners, and we knew that if we shared this mom’s circumstances, there would be a good chance that her needs would be met.

We contacted DoubleTree by Hilton and asked if we could have an extra stay for the month, and they very quickly responded yes. Mom not only had a place to stay while work was being done in her home, but she also had a place to go for some self-care time.

Like so many other families, it’s been a particularly challenging year for this mom and her kids. So we were able to send her a $100 Walmart gift card, provided by a generous donor. It made a huge difference to her family and that “it wasn’t easy to reach out for help,” but we made her feel “comfortable and supported.” She told us how glad she was that she reached out to Respite & Respitality.

By Heather Stevens, The Cridge Respite & Respitality Services

Childcare In The Time Of COVID-19

As you are undoubtedly aware, COVID-19 presented us all with tremendous obstacles back in March and through the spring. I’d like to tell you a bit about how we weathered the storm and hopefully rose to the challenge.

In mid-March, we were collectively reeling with the fact that the pandemic had reached us and was significantly affecting our day to day lives. The number of children attending our programs dropped daily as parents chose to work from home and schools closed.  All childcare programs in BC had been asked to remain open to provide care ‘if we could do so safely.’

Our biggest challenge was figuring out what “safely” meant, exactly.  In those first weeks, we had very little direction from either licensing (through Island Health), The Ministry of Children and Family Development, or the Ministry of Health.  We kept hearing: “please stay open to provide care for children of essential service workers if you can do so safely.” When it became clear that there were no clear answers coming, we knew that we would have to develop our own protocols and decide who was considered essential service.

When we did begin to get direction via teleconferences, we discovered that all our own protocols exceeded the standards that were being laid out for us.  Licensing did a virtual inspection of our facility to approve our Covid-19 protocols, which we passed. In May, Paula began to get phone calls from other child care centres asking for advice/guidance on how to re-open safely because our Licensing officer had recommended her as someone who did it well.

We were able to help a number of essential service families, most of whom have stayed with us. Almost every afternoon, we had a parent thanking us for staying open and willing to take them on as new families. In particular, one mom who came through our Transition House and Dovetail Program had recently gotten a job in a legal office, and through tears, she told us that she would have been laid off if she didn’t have stable daycare.

It was definitely a challenge to stay open, and it took a great deal of time and effort from our staff team.

But the gratitude from the parents reinforced why we do what we do: providing excellence in support, housing, education and community, we work together to restore hope and a future to those overcoming the challenges before them.

By Paula Westpatrick, Manager of The Cridge Childcare Services

Supporting Brain Injury

Brain Injury at The Cridge Centre and in Our Community

The Cridge Centre for the Family’s involvement in the field of brain injury started in 1988 with Macdonald House, a 10-bed residence for the brain injury survivors. During these 32 years, over 50 survivors have called Macdonald House home. We believe we have been and are successful in the support that we provide.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of brain injury survivors that reside in Greater Victoria and would benefit from strong housing support. The Cridge Centre has been a community leader in all the programs that we offer. As leaders, we need to address lagging social issues and provide positive solutions. From the perspective of mental health, addictions, and brain injury, it is very encouraging to witness this provincial government’s positive steps to purchase housing (The former Comfort Inn, Paul’s Motor Inn and possibly Oak Bay Lodge) in Victoria to house homeless population of our community. According to stats, over 52% of the homeless population are survivors of a brain injury. The intentions are good. Unfortunately, the positive outcomes have not quite come into fruition. With a couple of additions/program tweaks the plan to successfully house those targeted can be achieved.

I took the opportunity to submit this Op-Ed to the Times Colonist and am sharing it with you:

 

Our Homelessness Situation: Positive Solutions to further Positive Outcomes

The current government, specifically, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, through BC Housing is to be congratulated for purchasing local motels and investigating the possibilities of refurbishing recently vacated LTC facilities in efforts to help and house the homeless. Unfortunately, despite the best intentions, challenges are arising within these new facilities. On Al Ferraby’s Morning Show, Love Dodd, owner of Dodd’s Furniture, shared about the negative impact of the homeless being transitioned to the Comfort Inn site. For local businesses in the area, there has been a significant increase in vandalism, break-ins, and common areas have been fouled. Sadly, an owner has been threatened with physical harm. View Royal Mayor David Screech posted on his Facebook page that Oak Bay residents are resisting the idea of the conversion of the recently vacated Oak Bay Lodge for the Homeless community.

It is crucial that there are positive steps taken to assist those on the fringes of our society, so they do not become the targets of community backlash. The ghettoization of the disenfranchised has never been a solution to a social problem. Support for this population benefits from allies as opposed to adversaries. This can be achieved by committed programming support and establishing strategic alliances. There is a requirement for the initial financial investment. But its value of positive outcomes will far outweigh long term costs.

Instead of housing these new facilities with 100% of the homeless population, we should consider an integrated model. The average population consists of one in five being a person with a disability. It is clearly identified that the homeless population being supported is impaired with a disability. The majority are living a mental health, addiction and/or a brain injury.

There are community models of successfully integrated housing. For example, there is “Independent Living with Support”. Survivors of a brain injury living in their own apartment in a building that includes market renters. This model develops a community.  Instead of the stigma of being a person with a disability, survivors are just one of the renters. They are supported with specific life skill training and they blend in as opposed to sticking out. At the same time, market renters are exposed to survivors of a brain injury. Perhaps they are passing in the hallway, riding the elevator, saying “hi” while picking up their mail. There is the realization that these individuals are not to be feared. Survivors have suffered misfortune and they are trying to improve. Through positive interactions, these market renters become our allies. Instead of becoming a “mini, segregated institution,” The Comfort Inn facility could be a rich, diverse population if we designated 60% of the units to non-disabled individuals.  Providing reasonably priced rents could attract a strong cross-section of our community. This market could include university students, new immigrants to Canada or those on a limited or fixed employment income.

By integrating a facility like the Comfort Inn, we lose direct beds for the homeless population. This can be alleviated by encouraging a Continuum of Care. The Comfort Inn beds need not be a forever home. As we house those with mental health, addictions issues and/or a brain injury, we must encourage and support them to continue their positive journey toward recovery. The provision of life skills support and job development training will provide tools for these residents to become more independent, positive, productive, contributing members of our community. With these wrap-around services, these individuals will move on from the Comfort Inn, freeing up a residence and maintaining continual flow through.

If you talk to those who are homeless, you will hear stories of misfortune occurring to them that have led to their becoming homeless. An abusive partner, opioid addiction to manage pain to address a sports injury or a headfirst tumble off a bike can happen to anyone at any time. No matter the causes, committed investment in the lives of brain injury survivors will be a success for everyone in our community.

As we move forward to serve and improve our community take the time to be an advocate. Our experience, knowledge, and commitment to help are valued voices and opinions that need to be shared.”

By Geoff Sing, Manager of The Cridge Brain Injury Services

To learn more about The Cridge Brain Injury Services, visit this page.

YPOP Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Ten years ago, our Cridge supported daycare at Vic High (Higgins House) was faced with insurmountable challenges – no space and no funding. Vic High needed the daycare space for its expansion. The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) decided to stop funding support daycares. Higgins House had to close. But The Cridge was not about to give up on the young moms and their children!

The question was – how were we going to go forward with our commitment to supporting young moms and their children. We attended community meetings and plotted and strategized. It became apparent that many young moms throughout the Capital Region needed support to face the challenges of adulthood and parenting, not just the ones who were attending Vic High or connected to daycare. Outreach support seemed the obvious approach.

Funding was cobbled together, and Nicole Andrews was scooped up from Higgins House and launched into creating The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program (YPOP). She started out in the corner of the Cridge Daycare front office, using her own vehicle, supporting 12 young families on very part-time hours. Demand for the program increased, more funding was cobbled together for more hours, a bigger office was created, a program vehicle purchased, and Nicole’s caseload more than doubled. Ten years later, Cridge YPOP has actual program space (in Unit #6), the car is still going strong, and so is Nicole who juggles up to 30 young moms and 40 children.

 What has Cridge YPOP meant to the young moms who have accessed the program? Here are some of the comments from over the years:

“I have been able to do things on my own which was never possible for me. It has helped me be a better parent to my children and I have learned how to cope with my everyday life which was not the case before I started working with my [Outreach] worker”.

“When I feared of failing as a parent and where on earth to go in my life – help was offered by wise words and resources”.

“The program helped me get my daughter back, facilitated access, mentored me and counselled me. I am forever grateful”.

“Nicole mainly helped me deal with the social stigma about being a low-income single parent. Nicole also helped me gain enough self-esteem to join the workforce”.

We are so blessed to work with all of these families and to have had the support of all the other Cridge programs in giving us space and working so closely with us.

We are celebrating our 10th Anniversary COVID style. Families are visiting the YPOP space all during the week of July 13 to have some treats, do some shopping in the Free Store, and to make a “Growing Together” scrapbook.

 

By Marlene Goley, Manager of The Cridge Transition House and Outreach Services

How To Make An Impact In Your Community. Cridge Edition

This spring, many of us felt disconnected from people we love and care for while trying to cope with the pandemic. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of all the essential workers, we are now able to return to our workplaces and reconnect with families and friends carefully and cautiously. COVID-19 left us with a changed sense of our world. We went from COVID-baking to new ways of budgeting to fighting for social justice. Today, like never before, we feel the urge to make our world a better place! Here are seven ways you can make a difference in your community.

  1. Support small local businesses, including Black, Indigenous, and immigrant-owned businesses. It will have a significant impact on owners as well as strengthening the community.
  2. Do a beach clean up with family or friends. Visit vancouverisland.surfrider.org/beach-cleanups for more information. Let’s keep our home clean! 
  3. Volunteer. While many non-profit organizations are closed for volunteer opportunities, a new type of digital volunteering is gaining popularity. For more information visit volunteervictoria.bc.ca
  4. Be kind to your neighbours. Check on your neighbours and see if there is anything you can do for them, especially if they are elderly. Sometimes a few minutes of your time will be enough to make someone’s day!
  5. Support a great cause. Ride for Refuge is coming – this year, you can ride freestyle, walk, cycle or choose something completely unique. For more information, ways to participate and to register, visit rideforrefuge.org
  6. Donate your time or your goods – food banks, clothing donations, hygiene supplies for homeless shelters – everything counts! It is a great time to assess your belongings and see if there is anything worth donating. Charities like WIN (Women In Need) Society and Victoria Pregnancy Centre are accepting donations by appointment. There is always a need for menstrual products and personal hygiene products throughout the year!
  7. Educate yourself on social issues like systemic racism, Indigenous rights, gender-based violence, and environmental issues, to name a few. By educating yourself, you can become a great advocate for people in our community and help to create a safe and inclusive space for everyone!

Thanks to Lesly Derksen on Unsplash for this beautiful picture of the Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island.

The Cridge faces. Tori

Today we want to highlight the work of one particular member of The Cridge family – Tori is the  Community Program Coordinator for Community/Outreach and Mary Cridge Manor programs and services with The Cridge Brain Injury program. She joined The Cridge Brain Injury Services team in June 2007 as a brain injury support worker. She shared that her first experience was working with stroke survivors. It was a great and humbling experience for her to see the challenges they and their families needed to overcome in the process of rehabilitation.

Victoria grew up in Langford and moved across the country to attend Carleton University in Ottawa. Her area of interest was in combination criminology, psychology, sociology and law.  Tori’s first experience after returning to Victoria was working in the Youth Division at the  Military Family Resource Center, where she was running loss and grief workshops and programming for youth 6-19 years old. It was there that she met Janelle Breese Biagioni who later introduced her to the work of The Cridge Centre.

 

Tori’s favourite part of working with clients is that they get to celebrate small steps. “The rehabilitation takes time, sometimes years and years to restore lost functions,” shared Tori, “that is why it is so important to celebrate small victories. It is not about the finish line, it is about the journey.” Tori also loves the creativity of problem-solving. “There is always a solution, sometimes it just takes some time to find the right approach that works for a particular client. And The Cridge Centre’s mandate makes it easier to concentrate on the client’s needs and make decisions according to the best of the client’s interest.”

“What makes it hard is to realize the problem is systemic,” continued Tori. “We went a long way but there is so much more that needs to be done in advocacy for brain injury survivors, policy development, and service delivery. It is inspiring and humbling to advocate and work alongside brain injury survivors, accompany and help them on their journey of recovery.”

When we asked Victoria, what would be the main message she would like to share with us and our audience, she smiled “we all need to be kinder in our lives to ourselves and those that surround us.” It is easy to dismiss a person on the street and make a judgement about their problems. “So many brain injury survivors face difficulties communicating with people in their everyday life: in the bank, grocery store, on a street.” It is problematic for many of the brain injury survivors to clearly express themselves, stay calm or reach out to ask for help. It is so important for us to be compassionate when communicating with the people surrounding us. “Take a moment to listen, be patient. It can mean so much. Take a moment to reach out – it might change someone’s life. And if you don’t know the answer – ask. Help us to spread awareness and help build a stronger community!”

To learn more about The Cridge Brain Injury Services, visit the program’s page.

COVID-19 Story

Over a period of the past weeks, we collected stories about our families during the lockdown, their struggles and successes. Here is one of the stories.

The young parents that access The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program (YPOP) are overwhelmed, stressed and exhausted. Typically, they have little or no supportive family and are isolated and marginalized. A visit from the Cridge YPOP Outreach Worker can make a huge difference. This is especially true during this current COVID pandemic when these young parents are even more isolated. The current need to socially isolate means that the Cridge YPOP Outreach Worker has needed to come up with creative ways to stay connected to the young parents in her program. One way has been to put together small food hampers to deliver to their doors on a weekly basis.  This means that single moms do not have to figure out how to get groceries and keep their small children at home to minimize their exposure. We have realized that these visits can mean so much more than this very important practical help. After a grocery hamper drop and a bit of a chat from outside the front door, a young mom sent The Cridge YPOP Outreach Worker a text saying how desperate she had been feeling before the visit. She had been feeling in a very dark place that was getting darker. The Cridge YPOP Outreach Worker’s visit saved her from spiralling down further and gave her the lift she needed to carry on. We are grateful to have the extra funds to make up grocery hampers to deliver to all of our young parents. These bags of groceries are lifelines during these lonely, overwhelming times.

To learn more about The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program click here.

Make Mom Proud

Remember that comforting feeling of a hand stroking your hair and a voice telling you that everything is going to be alright? So many of us had a special woman in our life that was a role model, our best supporter, and our passionate advocate. Some of us called her mom, nanna, baba, geema, or maybe auntie. She demonstrated strength of spirit even when it was easier to falter and give up.

Now, with Mother’s Day almost upon us, it is time to think of a special gift that tells her how much she means to us. You can never go wrong with flowers or chocolate, but there is another wonderful option available! 

Just as your mom cared for you, you can pay that forward by supporting a family in need. So many of our young families are food insecure, often struggling to feed their children. The gift of a grocery card gives so much more than food — it also provides hope and peace of mind during a stressful time. You can give that gift today. Your mom will be proud of you!

To give a gift in honour of your mom, visit this page.