Homelessness is a complex issue involving mental health, physical health, drugs, intellectual disabilities, addiction and isolation. Every day, our team of social workers compassionately greets those who find themselves at a crossroads in life. We provide the support required for assessments, guidance, references, and especially the assistance this population needs in order to consider and begin an adapted and integrated process towards social reintegration.
Homelessness is described as “a process of social disaffiliation and a situation of social exclusion characterized by a person’s difficulty in having a stable, safe, adequate and healthy home due to a lack of housing or his or her inability to maintain one and, at the same time, in maintaining functional, safe and stable relationships in the community. Homelessness is explained by a combination of social and personal factors that constitute the life experience of men and women.”
Québec’s national policy to fight homelessness
You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.
A shared approach centred on motivational interviewing
In order to develop an updated, common and shared intervention approach among social workers and the entire Accueil Bonneau team, the organization actively acquires knowledge and training on the motivational interviewing method. This intervention technique promotes and reinforces the intrinsic motivation towards change. This is done through directional and collaborative communication centred on exploring and invoking arguments in favour of change coming from within the person being treated.
Our intervention philosophy
Like a lighthouse, our intervention philosophy guides our actions and our efforts. It represents both collective and individual commitment.
Understanding the situations and problems of our visitors
The people we care for lack housing or experience great housing insecurity. Combined with extreme poverty, this causes them to become homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The situation of homelessness is complex, as it involves several issues either as causes, manifestations or consequences of this reality. These problems are related to health (i.e.: infections, psychological distress, depression, episodes of delirium, medication misuse, drug abuse, compulsive gambling, lack of medical follow-ups and treatment); loss of recognition and of the sense of belonging (loss of loved ones, isolation, marginalization, violence, abuse, exclusion); conflicts with police or the law (i.e.: felony, misdemeanour, incarceration) as well as difficulty in taking responsibility for day-to-day activities (i.e.: poor hygiene, risky behaviour, debt, malnutrition). The combination of these factors creates a downward spiral which, in the absence of an adapted intervention, can exacerbate the issues and worsen the person’s overall condition.
The people we help have often been wounded by life. Though on the outside they may attempt to mitigate their pain to maintain a minimum of human dignity, this population experiences a great deal of suffering. Their lack of motivation may be a reflection of a fear of change or a loss of hope in improving their lives. The problems they experience must not stand in the way of providing them with the care they need.
For information: Rachel Miron | email@example.com | 514.845.3906 #264
For François, January 8th, 2014, was a night like many others. Under the influence of drugs and alcohol, he fell asleep against a pillar on Jacques-Cartier Bridge. Only this time, the police found him when the temperature had plummeted to -35 degrees. Paramedics rapidly arrived on site. He was administered injections and cold baths, and slowly, medical professionals were able to combat the cold that had paralyzed him.
“By the time the paramedics came to get me, my hand had turned black. I could have broken my own fingers if I had wanted to. They tried to save my hand, but couldn’t. They also took skin from my thigh to reconstruct my face.” His heart and lungs held out. François was lucky.
François speaks of this episode as his last chance at life. Since then, he has taken the advice of two Accueil Bonneau social workers more seriously than ever. He is working on himself, is giving up drugs, and has begun the process towards greater autonomy. Today, François shares a dwelling with his cat, Doudoune, which he found at just one week old, nearly 18 years ago. The same cat came to his aid three times when he attempted to take his own life. “She saved my life three times. She started scratching me when I was cutting my veins, as though begging me not to leave her there all alone!” he explains, with gratitude.
The relationship François has with the cold did not end on the night that took his fingers. Today, he is known for his permanent smile and his way of thanking life, translated by his daily commitment to helping the homeless. He is proud to say that he has gotten 13 people off the street to date. In early November, he spent part of the night distributing comfort, warmth and food in the streets. He never stops helping. And when he sees people who choose to remain outside, it hurts him. “I go home and cry like a baby.”
One may wonder how people can stay out in the cold to the point of putting their lives in danger. François explains, “They shoot up. They sleep. They freeze. They don’t notice anything. The cold starts in the feet and travels up the body. It’s like a kind of cancer, because it eats away at you slowly, and you don’t notice it.”