Head & Hands Blog

Winter Closure

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Winter is here! As usual, all Head & Hands locations and services are shutting down for the next two weeks (December 22, 2014 – January 4, 2015) so that we can rest up and prepare for the year ahead.

All our services will re-open and run on their regular schedules as of January 5, 2015.

Thank you to our volunteers, interns, board of directors, donors, supporters, friends, allies, and staff, as well as to NDG youth and the community for an amazing year!

We wish you all a very happy new year. See you in 2015!

Give the gift of…. Head & Hands!

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Did you know that this past year, 40% more clients accessed our emergency food pantry than ever before??  Or that overall demand for our programs increased almost 15% this past year??  The need for our medical, legal, and social services is growing, and so as we prepare to close for our winter break, please allow us to re-introduce our cutest fundraising campaign: Give the Gift!

When you donate online through Give the Gift, you’ll receive a package of custom-designed cards, ready to print at home and give to friends and family on behalf of each donation. Give the Gift was made possible thanks to two talented local Head & Hands supporters: web programmer, Danielle Bakhazi, and youth artist, J’VLYN.

No matter the occasion, we’ve got you covered in English and French, with cards for celebrating gratitude, birthdays, anniversaries, congratulatory moments, incredible friendships, a new life, or just because!

Give the Gift cards are perfect for the person who says they don’t need anything, who doesn’t want more stuff, who wishes they had more time to volunteer, who believes in buying local, who believes in homemade gifts, who believes in ethical giving, who you have no idea what to buy, for the person who loves Head & Hands, and for the person that you love.

No matter who is on the receiving end, they can’t deny the wicked awesome goodness that comes from a donation being made in one’s honour to support youth in our community.

Okay, so we’ve explained why it’s amazing. But how does it WORK?!

1. Go to our Give the Gift page by clicking here

2. Decide how much you want to donate via your credit card or PayPal account

3. Receive a PDF file with a ton of beautiful cards

4. Pick the card you like

5. Print the card you like

6. Personalize it and send it!

7. Enjoy being the best gift giver ever.

It’s easy and fabulous.

Support Sex Workers at Dec 17th Action and Vigil

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ACTION SANTÉ, TRAVESTI(E)S ET TRANSSEXUEL(LE)S DU QUÉBEC (ASTTeQ), RÉZO AND STELLA, L’AMIE DE MAIMIE have invited sex workers, those who work with sex workers, and allies to join in a walk and vigil this December 17th, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

Last year, sex workers and allies celebrated a huge victory when the Supreme Court recognized that criminal laws contribute to systemic violence that sex workers experience, and declared those laws unconstitutional (check out this link for more information). This year, however, the federal government introduced a new set of laws (known collectively as C-36) which came into effect on December 6th and will once again cause harm to sex workers – compromising safety, security, and dignity.

C-36 is a big concern for us and the folks we work alongside with on a daily basis. We here at Head & Hands, an organization committed to harm and risk reduction, believe that C-36 will lead to increased surveillance and criminalization of marginalized and racialized communities – trends we are already fighting against! C-36 is a strong reminder as to the importance of our Street Work program, our legal clinic, our work against racial profiling, and our commitment to underscoring the strength and resilience of our communities. These laws also remind us that the fight for safe working conditions, decriminalization, and dignity for sex workers is rooted in demands to end to gendered, racialized, systemic violence. The fight continues.

With the passage of C-36 , we at Head & Hands, along with ACTION SANTÉ, TRAVESTI(E)S ET TRANSSEXUEL(LE)S DU QUÉBEC (ASTTeQ), RÉZO AND STELLA, L’AMIE DE MAIMIE are calling for people to come together  to demand safe working conditions for sex workers.

We encourage you to learn more about the incredible work STELLA is doing, about Bedford v. Canada, and about the devastating laws under C-36.

We are calling upon you to come out in numbers on Dec 17th to support sex workers and call for an end to gendered, racialized, systemic violence. We are looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!

 

When: December 17th, 2014, 4:30pm-5:30pm

 

Meeting point @ 4:30pm

Montreal Municipal Court

775 rue Gosford, Montréal

(Champs de Mars metro)

 

Vigil afterwards

Palais de Justice

1 Rue Notre-Dame East, Montréal

Racial Profiling & Know Your Rights: New Video Resources!

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know Your RightsThese past few months, racial profiling and police violence have been in the international media spotlight. The murder of unarmed teenager Mike Brown, the acquittal of the police officer responsible for his death, and the resulting popular mobilizations in Ferguson have all shed light on this issue.

For youth of colour in Montreal, racial profiling and police harassment have been parts of their daily reality for years. In the last two decades, Montreal police have killed at least 47 civilians – including unarmed teenager Fredy Villanueva in 2008. The police report commissioned in response to Villanueva’s death concluded that Black youth in Montreal are eight times more likely to be stopped by police than White youth of the same age.

If you or someone you know has experienced racial profiling, Head & Hands can support in a few different ways (free of charge for youth 12-25, like all our services):

-Through active listening and non-judgmental conversation, we create safe spaces to be heard, acknowledge the trauma caused by racial profiling, and let youth know they aren’t alone in these experiences

-Through individual support from our Legal Coordinator, we empower young people to follow up on experiences of racial profiling, explaining their options and helping them navigate bureaucracy (for example, in order to file official complaints or contest unjustified tickets)

-Through our workshops and published resources, we educate youth and communities around how to react when they face racial profiling, by providing information about rights and responsibilities as well as strategies for conflict de-escalation

This week, we are very excited to launch our “Know Your Rights” video series – a new resource intended to share key information from our legal program with a broader audience, and spark conversations around this important issue. Each of these video capsules contains strategies for asserting your rights and de-escalating tense interactions, including “Interacting with Police” and “Loitering & Arrest“.

To request support, book a workshop, or get more information about our full range of legal support services, click here or call Ralph at 514-481-0277.

Clinic Closure Dates

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Dear clinic patients,
Please note that there will be a 3 week clinic hiatus over the winter break. The last clinic of the year will be held on Thursday, December 11th and then clinics will resume on Tuesday, January 6th 2015. If you need to see the doctor before the new year, make sure to come to the clinic before the holiday closure! Please note that we are a drop-in clinic and we cannot renew prescriptions without a doctor’s visit. For more information about our clinic or to check the calendar, visit our website or call 514 481-0277.
All of our other programs and services will be closed from Monday, December 22nd through January 5th, inclusive.
Cheers,
Jos and Dr. Tellier

 

Donor News: J2K Animator Eva Helps Youth Express Themselves Through Art

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Eva

Jeunesse 2000 (J2K) animator Eva knows the importance of artistic expression in building youth confidence.

Many youth who come to the J2K drop-in centre have difficult situations going on at home, and need an outlet to express themselves. Unfortunately for many, access to safe, non-judgemental spaces that encourage artistic expression is rare. Providing a quiet place to write, or workshops on how to play musical instruments, is invaluable. It allows youth to build relationships with animators like Eva. “We try and fill a gap in society – it can be hard to talk about certain things with your teacher or parents, and so you end up talking to your friends, but they’re not necessarily the best people or the most informed. Youth really need that in-between, which is why I see myself as a big sister figure.”

For Eva, part of being a big sister means creating safe, non-judgmental spaces that inspire and empower the youth. In early October, she hosted a discussion group on black hair and identity; and this summer, along with other J2K staff and youth, she helped put on Do My Ladies Run This, an all-female music showcase at Shaika Café. For Eva, it was important for the youth to see women, “practicing, singing, and jamming. It showed them that, yes, they belong here, and yes, their art matters.”

But Eva stresses that you don’t have to want to make art or have a topic you want to discuss to come to J2K. In fact, you don’t need to have a reason at all. For youth, just knowing that there’s a place where they can come and hang out if they have nothing to do is really important.

Throwback Thursday: Students in Mind Conference

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students in mind

On October 5th, Rhonda, our Social Counselor, attended the 2nd annual Students in Mind conference at McGill University. The conference aimed to create a space for the McGill community to come together to change the mental health climate on campus and to reflect on the role mental health plays in everyday life.

Rhonda was excited to attend the conference to bring mental health to the forefront of conversations— to make it a topic that can be talked about, rather than hidden. “Unless people have been depressed themselves, it is very difficult to imagine what it is like,” Rhonda explains. “When students feel they’re depressed or anxious, they need to be able to talk about it.”

Around 150 students came to campus on a Sunday for the conference, which included workshops on self-care and peer support, speeches, and panels on topics such as cross-cultural portrayals of mental health, social media and mood, and student strategies for mental health.

Rhonda spoke on a Mental Health/Illness & Criminality panel, which discussed the over-representation of people with various forms of mental illness in the criminal justice system, and ways to address the marginalization and isolation of people in need of mental health support.

Mental health support is notoriously difficult to access in Montreal; many youth are unable to access appropriate, affordable support and can fall through the cracks of the existing social safety net, which can lead to marginalization and criminalization. Existing support systems, like schools, social workers, and psychologists, are often overwhelmed with cases and are not always able to provide appropriate, ongoing support to youth.

Rhonda is able to support youth facing mild to moderate depression or personal crises, and works in collaboration with Dr. Tellier to support youth who want a mental health evaluation from a doctor.  Dr. Tellier is able to provide evaluations at our medical clinic and referrals to psychiatrists. As always at Head & Hands, our mental health support services are holistic, non-judgmental, and focused on giving youth the support they need to make informed choices about their mental and physical well-being.

Welcome Paul – our street work team is finally complete!

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photoThree years ago, government budget cuts forced us to suspend NDG’s only street work program.  We immediately set to work rallying community support in order to bring this essential service back to our community, and your response has been amazing!

Last year, we were able to partially relaunch the program by hiring Sara as a solo street worker. Sara has done some truly incredible work since then: supporting over 460 community members by sharing safer sex and drug use gear, intervening in crises, and supporting people with longer-term needs like mental health, housing, and employment.  Still, working without a partner has limited Sara’s reach; NDG is just too big for one person to cover, and some spaces where street work can make the greatest impact aren’t always safe for her to access alone.

And so – this month, we’re very excited to introduce Paul, the second Head & Hands street worker!  Paul comes to us with a true wealth of experience supporting youth with addiction, homelessness, and mental health as well as racism, poverty, and the legal system.  His 8 years of work in this area include both community-based and government positions, including NDG’s Tracom crisis centre.  He is also an artist, having directed multiple films on youth and homelessness and painted several murals for community organizations around the province!

When asked what he’s looking forward to doing here at H&H, Paul said he’s most excited about “keeping it simple, being real, and adding my own colours to the Head & Hands rainbow.”  We can’t wait!!!

Donor News: Street Worker Sara Talks Suicide Intervention

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Since the re-launch of our Street Work program, Sara has been supporting youth through a variety of complex and sensitive challenges, including 14 suicide interventions. We sat down with Sara to learn more about how she is supporting these youth through their most difficult times.

"These feelings can be some of the hardest we as humans can feel."

“These feelings can be some of the hardest we as humans can feel.”

 

H & H: How do you know if someone is considering suicide?

I listen for certain key words or phrases like “hopelessness” or “things don’t matter anymore.” Often the client is someone I have an ongoing relationship with and I’ll notice that they’ve lost interest in the things they normally do. These are red flags. I’ll then ask them, “Are you thinking suicide?” or “Are you thinking of hurting yourself?”

H&H: How do clients react?

Usually, they’ll just say “yes” or “no.” Or they’ll say, “No, but I think about it sometimes.” I think if people are suicidal, they feel a lot of relief that someone is not afraid to talk about it.

H&H: If a client says that they are suicidal, what do you do?

I say, “I’m really worried about you right now. These feelings can be some of the hardest we as humans can feel. It’s understandable you are having feelings of hopelessness.”

If you’re worried someone’s going to kill themselves, and if they’re in a state of shock, sometimes it can be good to be directive, while still checking in to make sure they’re on the same page as you. I provide and explore options with them, such as going to a crisis centre. I talk through the process with them so they know what to expect. I also let them know that we can make the call together, and that I can be with them – they don’t have to go through this alone.

H&H: What kind of follow-up do you do?

I get their permission to build a network of support with them by connecting them with various crisis and relevant support services. I follow up with the person to see how meetings are going with the other organizations and ask if there are other areas in their life they are looking for support with.

In addition to our street worker, our social counselor Rhonda provides support for people thinking about suicide. Our holistic approach means that we draw on a variety of networks at Head & Hands and in the larger community to support those going through difficult times. 

If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, you can contact Sara 514-377-9858 or call us at 514-481-0277 to make an appointment with our Social Counsellor, Rhonda.

You can also call Suicide Action Montreal at 514-723-4000 or Tracom at 514-483-3033.

 

Closure: 225 minutes for 225 million!

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Head & Hands will be closed on Monday, November 17th between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00 pm. Last year, after Quebec’s community organizations demonstrated a need for $225 million in additional funding, the previous provincial government committed to $162 million in funding increases. The current government has canceled even this modest commitment, and community groups across the province are joining together to express our outrage. There will also be a protest at Place Émilie Gamelin starting at 1:00 pm; attendees are asked to wear black. Feel free to access all our services as usual before 1:00 pm and after 5:00 pm on the 17th! We’ll be here at 10:00 am as usual, and will reopen at 5:00 to offer services until our usual closing time of 9:30 pm.