On a gloomy stormy day, Debra Swan welcomed us into the Fredericton Men’s Homeless shelter. Although one might expect a similarly dreary mood inside the shelter, this was not the case. The Men’s location manager, Brian welcomed us in jovially, and Debra exuded warmth.
We met with Debra in the board room at the shelter, which was located next to the open room of beds. This showcased the lack of privacy available to the men living here, who temporarily call this place home. Despite this structural set up, the community created by the staff and residents is what brings a sense of comfort.
We had an extremely insightful interview. Debra provided us with many answers from her firsthand experience. She discussed that the main problem that contributes to homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. She stated that there are thousands of people in the Fredericton area that are on the brink of homelessness due to the high cost of living and low wages, and this scares her.
What was perhaps the most inspiring aspect of meeting with Debra, was when she explained an integral part of the work done at the shelter. One might think that it is simply a place where people can stay overnight, but it is much more than that. Not only do the clients and workers collaboratively put together an action plan, but the workers aim to reinstate a sense of worth in the people who come into the shelter. Debra said that many people come in thinking that they do not deserve better than staying in shelters. They work to reinstate a sense of dignity and self worth in everyone who comes through the doors
Fredericton Homeless Shelters Website: http://www.theshelters.ca/
Fredericton Homeless Shelters Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/FredShelters
Community Action Group on Homelessness- Housing First: http://www.cagh.ca/en/index.php/about-qhousing-firstq
Homelessness Among Elderly Persons: http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/Elderly.pdf
The Homeless Hub: Seniors: http://www.homelesshub.ca/topics/seniors-263.aspx
A Report on Homelessness & Seniors: http://intraspec.ca/OutofsightOutofmind.pdf