Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sharing and Caring

August 20

At the event in Dartmouth yesterday Keith Brumwell of the CMHA Halifax Region talked about some of the social programs they run that support the resilience and recovery of adults experiencing mental illness. "We operate on a shoestring budget, funding is hard to come by." Keith apologized. They are open 6 days a week from 1pm to 9pm .

The Sharing and Caring Social Club provides social and recreational activities in a supportive environment. As Ruth, the consumer who spoke at the event in Dartmouth said, " It's a place where you feel comfortable. It's easy to be here. You don't have to worry what other people are thinking."

The Building Bridges Program offers one-to-one social support for individuals 19 - 65 years old.
A volunteer is paired with a program member and they meet a few times each month to share common leisure interests. "A mental illness can be very isolating for someone without social supports" Keith explained. "The individual might spend days or weeks alone in their room or apartment. Our volunteers might visit, or accompany them to the store, or out for a coffee. It's amazing what just a phone call will do."

When we spoke with Keith after the event he invited us to join them at the club's monthly Meal Night and we happily accepted. We found the club located in the Bloomfield Community Centre in the north end of Halifax. There was a lot of noise and activity as we approached. Several members welcomed us as we walked in. Keith explained that a great many of the individuals with a mental illness live below the poverty line. "When you are unable to work, social assistance in Nova Scotia is woefully inadequate." He went on to say that government funding for mental health is almost non-existent. "It's just not on the radar screen."

They rely on private and corporate donations to get by. Keith and the members were very grateful for the van that was recently donated by a GM dealership. "It's nice to go on an outing, out of the city or to the grocery store." said Ruth.

Everyone deserves a friend, a home and a job. The Sharing and Caring Social Club is a place where people can find a friend.


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