Jack comes to us every now and again and does not often stay long. He is very street entrenched, addicted to substances and has some mental health and developmental issues. These significant barriers make it very difficult for him to stay a long time in a structured setting such as ours.
He was so accustomed to keeping opposite hours, sleeping on the street or in “the bush” during the day, when it is safe, and staying awake at night. He does not like wearing shoes and often has to be prompted to put them on. He is generally very quiet, but friendly in our Crisis Shelter.
Staff have been working on building a relationship with him in hopes that he will stay longer and stabilize more. He seems to be doing well this stay, and has obviously benefitted from the relationship building he has done with the youth workers, including playing cards.
Recently one evening before bed there were a few youth up playing cards and talking with Andrea a youth worker and her teammate. A couple youth were joking around with Andrea, teasing her a bit as we often do, and one of these youth made a joke about how Andrea was being creepy for knowing the routines of some of the youth. This conversation was all in good fun of course, but as Andrea was getting everyone to head to bed, Jack said to her out loud in the space, “Andrea, you’re not creepy”. It was so sweet of him to speak up when he does not often do so, and to do it to make sure her feelings weren’t hurt by the youth’s joke. The other youth began joking around a bit more and Jack got a bit embarrassed, but Andrea thanked him sincerely for his kind words.
He does not say much, and we never know if he is going to make it back to us in one piece, but to experience these moments of sweet sincerity in him is truly one of the great gifts of this job.
So far Jack has stayed a week – which is a great success in and of itself! Our case manager has an initial meeting with his mental health/housing support worker next week and we begin the difficult process of securing him long term housing. We will continuing to build a trusting relationship with Jack and work with him as long as it takes so he can get the long term support he needs.