Safety for Kate

Kate knew she was in trouble when Mike threatened her with his fist. He felt frustrated and on edge; the children had been crying. Making things worse, Mike’s violent behaviour had been escalating since Kate’s last pregnancy.

The loss of income and fewer community supports as a result of the pandemic were hard on their marriage. Meanwhile, being stuck at home in the presence of her abuser at all times made it almost impossible for Kate to reach out for help. Add to that two small children and their home was a powder keg waiting to blow. Afraid and exhausted, Kate didn’t know where to get help.

A good friend of hers reached out to The Cridge Transition House for Women, wondering what kind of support they might have for Kate. They quickly set up a phone call for Kate with Nicole, our Young Parent Outreach Worker. Nicole assessed Kate’s situation and recommended that Kate and her children find alternative housing. The challenge was to find a place that would be able to support Kate and her children. Nicole has a long-standing relationship with a local housing provider and they were able to offer a space. Within a month of the initial phone call, Kate moved into safe housing. Now, out of the abusive relationship, she has a chance to heal and create a new life.

Nicole has continued to support Kate, working in partnership with other support workers, to make sure that Kate has access to community resources, has support in parenting and is mentored in her choices regarding school, employment and childcare.

Your support to The Cridge Centre’s fall appeal to prevent homelessness has created a real difference for women like Kate. Instead of Kate being in an abusive relationship and at risk of homelessness, she is now living in safety with her children and looking forward to a healthy and stable future. Your support has touched the lives of so many people, just like Kate. Thank you for helping us to prevent homelessness in Victoria.

Love Your Brain Yoga for Brain Injury Survivors

Meghan Kelly is a survivor of brain injury. She graduated from The Cridge Brain Injury Services – Transitional Housing with Supports Program (Mary Cridge Manor) back in Oct 2019. During her time at Mary Cridge Manor, Meghan participated in Love Your Brain (LYB) Yoga class offered in our community – together with a few fellow survivors also living at the Mary Cridge Manor (MCM). She shares, “In 2018 when I participated in the LYB program for the first time, I was in the peak of my rehabilitation and appointments. My weeks felt long, and at that time, I felt very isolated and was really missing connection and community. As a former yogi and teacher, when I saw the program tailored for people experiencing many of the same symptoms I was, I felt hopeful and excited. The other survivors from MCM and I would walk down to yoga together, which helped us build a connection throughout the six weeks. The program gave me something to look forward to, and amazing friendships flourished. I began noticing my confidence and mood improving as well as my mind/ body connection. It was an incredibly positive experience that I will always cherish and is symbolic of a significant milestone in my healing.”

Just before moving out of MCM, Meghan received a grant to cover the expenses of her becoming a certified Love Your Brain Yoga Instructor herself.

Fast forward into early 2020, when Meghan was ready to begin offering classes to individuals of all abilities and ages through various Cridge programs, COVID happened. So Meghan did what survivors do and tried to find another way! In September, she offered an outdoor, socially distanced yoga class for survivors living at MCM. It was so popular! Six clients participated, and one of them shares, “Thank you for Love Your Brain Yoga. It was really nice to be outside practicing yoga with other brain injury survivors. It was helpful to be instructed by a brain injury survivor. I learned life-affirming yogic skills with a group of survivors, and I was given hope by an instructor who was also a survivor of brain injury. The fact that everyone had experienced brain injuries was crucial to me and something I could only experience through Love Your Brain Yoga. Thank you! It was meaningful, and I really appreciated it!”

Meghan shares, “Offering the program to survivors at MCM has been a rewarding and beautiful experience. To see other survivors who started the program with me back in 2018 and how they have grown is so inspiring! Meeting new survivors and learning from them and their experience helps me keep moving forward and want to keep learning and helping. It was truly magical to know how much MCM has helped me; I wouldn’t be a Love Your Brain Yoga teacher without their support. To be able to give something back to this amazing community is truly an honour. I feel so grateful!”

In the new year, Meghan will join our team of support workers and offer direct support services to survivors walking the journey of rehabilitation and offer specialized wellness consulting to clients exploring meditation, mindfulness, exercise and other wellness activities as part of their rehabilitation plan. We look forward to providing another outdoor and socially distanced Love Your Brain Yoga class in the spring as the weather warms back up.

By Tori Dach, The Cridge Brain Injury Services Community Program Coordinator

Gratitude Amidst the Grey

Today when I look out the window, I see heavy rain and grey clouds. It is rather dismal. But in a lovely juxtaposition, I have a beautiful bouquet of bright flowers in front of the window that provides a bright spot of colour and light.

It’s been that kind of year, hasn’t it? There has been a LOT of grey – hardship, uncertainty, anxiety and just plain old fear. The pandemic has knocked the stuffing out of us and we all just yearn for a return to “normal”, whatever that may be.

And yet. There have been some real bright spots too. Seeing our community come together with the common goal of bending the curve – remarkable! Hearing stories of connection and support – beautiful! Seeing previously untapped sources of creativity and generosity – stunning! What an amazing community we live in!

In the midst of the grey, there has been a lot to be thankful for. And now, as we look ahead to a season of grey weather and reduced opportunities to return to “normal”, let’s keep our eyes on the good stuff and consider how we can be the source of light and encouragement for others.

This #GivingTuesday, would you consider supporting vulnerable women, young families and brain injury survivors by donating today – be the light and encouragement that they need during this grey time.

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.