Small Ideas: $10,000


The existing Drop In Centre and programming will be expanded to be more inclusive to support the needs of a larger demographic population in Waterloo Region. Currently the Centre lacks Recreational and Life Skill Programming due to a lack of funding.

The Cambridge Shelter Corporation, "The Bridges" operates 365 days a year and provides 78 bed emergency shelter, hot nutritious meals, a drop-in centre with some vital support services and 20 affordable, transitional, bachelor apartments to assist those in dire need. We are the only wheelchair accessible homeless shelter in Waterloo Region.

We hope to provide a therapeutic recreational program for those experiencing homelessness and living in poverty called The Power of Change. The purpose is to not only reduce social isolation for those living in poverty but also to help build life skills to help transition them from homelessness to adaptive transitional housing as most of our chronic homeless clients have a high level of acuity for mental health issues.
With funding, the program would run January 2, 2019 to December 31, 2019.

A holistic approach (wrap-around services) for homeless individuals and families who are feeling alone, frightened, vulnerable and unloved.

Research indicates that "Therapeutic recreation programs … gives participants an opportunity to be active, social, build relationships and even helps assist with mental health and addiction concerns by filling up time in the day" (St. Michael's hospital, Hamilton April 28, 2014).

The number of people seeking shelter continues to rise. In 2017 our occupancy rate was 98.8% with an increase of 22% in bed nights (those seeking emergency beds). 74% of our clients are male and 20% are over the age of 50. We host a weekly community breakfast to anyone in our community needing a hot meal and average 100 people a week.

It is imperative we provide support programs, such as Therapeutic Recreation and support to help reduce stress and focus on the "whole person" which can help alleviate tension that leads to conflicts, police are called and people are often then barred from shelters. Programs such as this promote social inclusion which is critical to overall well-being.

In a recent article (Feb. 26/16) by John Clarke, Global Research reported that research conducted through Out of the Cold programs (which is where our humble roots began) found that "Shelter use has grown by 11% over the last four years and there is no indication that this trend is likely to reverse". Other research found that although the Shelters are over capacity those participants who had support from the Shelter were able to identify key issues that may have contributed to being or remaining homeless. Support staff actively assisted clients to establish personal goals to address issues. Clients in the study reported strong improvements across a range of domains: they felt safer, ate better, felt healthier, and those with addictions appeared to be making progress in reducing alcohol or drug use (Evaluation of the Streets to Homes Follow-Up Program; John Burrett and Joy Connelly Consulting Services, April 2014).

Therapeutic Programs could include Recreational Programs e.g., bowling, baseball league, board games, skating, music, movie days, pet therapy visits, outdoor programs. In addition to the recreational programming, there would be a life skill component: a Gardening Program (grow what you eat), Cooking classes (how to eat well on a low income in preparation for transition from homeless to adaptive supportive housing as we believe that everyone deserves a roof over their head and a locked door.

These programs will increase social inclusion, develop necessary life skills training, increase self-confidence in the individual. It will also help engage the clients in day to day activities that motivate them and keep them focused on healthy choices instead of being on the street all day with substance use temptations.

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Cambridge Shelter Corporation

Location: Cambridge