We are all in this Together
At a time when it is easy to feel hopeless, the Mission Services of London team continues to dig deep to find courage, compassion, and perseverance to help those most vulnerable among us.
We are grateful for all of the staff throughout our branches as they forge forward in this time of crisis. Today, we are launching a story series, We are all in this Together, and would like to start with a story from one of our five branches of service: Quintin Warner House.
All for One and One for All at Quintin Warner House Amidst COVID-19 Crisis
The staff at Quintin Warner House knew life was about to change in response to the COVID-19 crisis, but they were determined to continue supporting the men in the live-in addiction treatment program. While a few of the men decided to go back home to self-isolate with their families, several continued with the program. “The fellows that remained, they don’t have a home, we would be returning them to homelessness [if we were to close], and so that did not make good sense. That’s how we decided we were going to continue,” Martha Connoy, Director of Quintin Warner House, explained.
Keep Calm and Carry On
“We talked about how we can continue to manage our services and protect our clients’ health and our own health…This is a serious time and an unknown time,” said Martha.
Martha is particularly proud of the team’s unwavering ability to work together and problem solve. As physical distancing became an important precaution, the team had to think about how to work within those guidelines and still meet the needs of the clients. They developed a schedule to ensure support is available around the clock, whether it is in-person or electronically. Group counselling sessions are run in the house in the morning and afternoon, while other staff working from home use Zoom, a teleconferencing software, to electronically provide one-on-one counselling and group work. The clients continue to use a guidebook for the curriculum, finish homework, and hand in journals as usual.
“Life is continuing and that’s really commendable of the staff. They haven’t stopped what they’re doing. They’re just doing it differently,” explained Martha. “Under the circumstances of people being worried about themselves and their families, and wanting to keep people safe, they’re still doing the work… They are creative and I think that’s a skill. It’s a practical and measurable skill that these guys have”.
Finding Community in the Midst of Physical Isolation
Continuing to operate called for creatively considering the spaces at Quintin Warner House. Down the road from the main live-in treatment house, you will find two Annex homes which provide continued support for program graduates. Residents of the Annexes moved into the main treatment house (since some spots were left vacant by clients who preferred to isolate in their own home communities), so that one of the Annex houses could be re-purposed as an isolation space for those who may fall ill.
Martha recalled, “The guys and the staff went over with mops and buckets to clean the house from top to bottom. They made sure there was food in the freezer and cupboards, and they made up the beds with fresh linen. If someone becomes sick, they will have their own space and be isolated from everyone else until they are better… There’s a TV, a kitchen; they would have everything they need, and the staff would check on them while wearing their PPE”.
Housekeeping is not a strange task for the clients at Quintin Warner House. During their stay for treatment, they are responsible for chores including cooking, cleaning, and snow removal – just to name a few. “That’s part of life skills [coaching]. Some of them haven’t held a vacuum cleaner in many years, and so we are teaching them how to live independently,” Martha remarked. “They were very happy to prepare the Annex. This is a time when people pull together”.
Cooking with Care
As every cloud has a silver lining, Martha has also seen a sense of comradery grow amidst the COVID-19 crisis. This has been particularly evident in the acts from one gentleman who has taken to cooking lunch for the household. “He just said, ‘I’m going to make lunch today’ and he made the best mushroom soup I’ve had in a really long time,” Martha complimented. “He was a very quiet, sullen kind of fellow and now he’s smiling, and he’s talking, and he’s very engaged. He was doing some cooking before, but now he’s right into it”.
Martha believes that he found confidence, joy, and purpose in being able to share his culinary talents with others when they may be feeling down or anxious. “I think he’s feeling more confident and competent about cooking. He takes pleasure in doing something for others. Rather than just taking, he’s giving, and that makes him feel good”.
As the days continue in this unsettling and unprecedented time, it is clear that the staff and clients at Quintin Warner House are steadfast in their commitment to support one another, think creatively, and forge forward as a team.
Visit the Quintin Warner House webpage to learn more about this branch of Mission Services of London.
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