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By Location Alaska Albuquerque Allentown Amsterdam Anaheim Anchorage Ann Arbor Atlanta Austin Baton Rouge Bend Binghamton Boston Boulder Canada Cardiff Charlotte Chatsworth Chicago Chippenham Cleveland Columbia SC Columbus Dallas Denver Des Moines Detroit Edmonton Eugene Fayetteville Fort McMurray Fredericton Gainesville Glendale Great Falls Greensboro Harbor City Harrisburg Hawaii Hawthorne Hollywood Honolulu houston Ithaca Kalkaska Kelowna Koreatown Las Vegas Lima London London (Canada) Los Angeles Louisville Manchester Miami Minneapolis/St Paul Montreal Nashville New Orleans New York City Nickelsville Norway Oakland Ocala Oslo Ottawa Oxford Paradise Pasadena Peru Philadelphia Phoenix Pine Ridge Pittsburgh Portland Reseda Sacramento Salt Lake City San Diego San Francisco San Jose San Luis Obispo Santa Monica Saskatoon Seattle Shawnee Skid Row Springfield St John's St Louis St. Petersburg Syracuse Tacoma Tampa Toronto Traverse City Tulsa United Kingdom Vancouver Venice Beach Vermont Victoria Wales Washington DC Wentzville Westwood Wichita Wilmington Winnipeg Yellowknife By topic Addiction Advocacy Affordable housing Art and Music Awareness Charity Cold Weather College Students Community Involvement Coronavirus Couch Surfing Couple Criminalization Data Disabled Divorce Domestic violence Drug testing Education Employment Eviction Ex-convict Faith based Families Family conflict Female Financial crisis Foster care Harm reduction Health care HIV/AIDS Homeless count Homeless deaths Hostels (UK shelters) Hotels Housing First HUD Human trafficking Identification Incarceration Indigenous Invisible People Invisible Stories Job loss K2/Spice (Synthetic Marijuana) LGBT Libraries Lived Experience Male Mental illness Mobile Homeless Natural disasters NIMBY Outreach Panhandling Peer Support Pets Poverty Pregnant PTSD Public Feeding Racism Recycling Relationships Research Rural Schools Seniors Sex Offenders Sex Worker Shelters Single Parent Social Media Social Security Socks Solutions Street Soccer Survival sex System Failure Systems Change Technology Tent Cities Tiny Homes Transgender Travelers Veteran Vietnam Veteran Violence Waiting list Welfare Working poor Youth EVENTS @home contests PBS road trip road trip 2009 road trip 2010 road trip 2011 road trip 2013 to fight youth homelessness sober birthday campaign SXSW TEDx INTERVIEWS Learn More Canadian Homelessness Coronavirus and Homelessness Criminalization of Homelessness Family Homelessness Homeless Seniors Homeless Veterans Homeless Youth Homelessness Mobile Homelessness Panhandling Tent Encampments U.K. Homelessness MISCELLANEOUS 360 video Awards Cause Marketing Dream Center Gates Foundation Google Glass Media Patreon Tribute World Trade Center YouTube More Updates

Barry

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Barry is the type of colorful character I could sit and talk to for hours. He is smart, and funny, and a bit brash, with a lifetime of interesting experiences to share.

I was invited to speak to a group of rough sleepers living in a homeless hostel. Meeting Barry and the rest of his mates was an experience I’ll never forget. When I walked in they were playing Invisible People videos on the wall.  I was honored and grateful beyond words. But get this, my new rough sleeping mates were all drinking “cider” or beer and slightly buzzed.  Some of them had other physical or mental challenges from being on the streets.  They were all sitting around having a good time and being a little rambunctious, which the staff navigated with grace.  It was a fun few hours.

The hostel we were in is a “wet hostel”, meaning clients are allowed to drink. There is an area for people who don’t want to be around alcohol, and there is an area for people who want to drink.  I truly love this model of homeless services because an abstinence-based model doesn’t for people like Barry. Barry and his mates would be out on the streets, often in unsafe conditions and situations. Instead, chronic homeless people are inside and surrounded by staff who can intervene and help whenever needed.

It also helps people who are chronic alcoholics slow down their drinking and often stop. When you’re outside going to the bathroom behind a rubbish bin, might as well drink to forget. In a “wet shelter model” there is dignity and far more hope that the person will stop than being left sleeping rough.

Barry starts off talking about how when a person is rough sleeping the cycle of drinking is nonstop. He goes on and shares about once when he was sleeping rough, he was urinated on, shit on, and then his sleeping bag was set on fire. My heart broke when Barry first shared that story. Sadly, violence against rough sleepers and people experiencing homelessness is increasing.

Barry is also a client representative for the hostel. Barry says 9 times out of 10 when he brings up an issue about support services and the condition of the hostel, they listen. I really wish all homeless services would listen to the people we serve!

Special thanks to St Mungo’s Broadway and Mencap.

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