The Société de développement social (SDS), in collaboration with the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), are announcing the launch of Pair aidant, a pilot program to assess the potential employability of homeless persons hanging out in the Montréal métro. The pilot program starts today with interventions happening at Place-des-Arts station. For four weeks, a team composed of two volunteers and a social worker from St. Michaels Mission will conduct these interventions.
Montréal, January 18, 2016 – The Société de développement social (SDS), in collaboration with the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), are announcing the launch of Pair aidant, a pilot program to assess the potential employability of homeless persons hanging out in the Montréal métro. The pilot program starts today with interventions happening at Place-des-Arts station. For four weeks, a team composed of two volunteers and a social worker from St. Michaels Mission will conduct these interventions.
« Just as having access to decent housing, reentering the workforce is a key step to leaving life on the street, but it’s a path that must be taken gradually. The Pair aidant program enables homeless people who have gone through traumatic experiences to volunteer for an esteem-building activity, while getting some coaching, for the best chance of finding a job by the end of the program. Initiated by the STM, this approach perfectly illustrates its desire to strengthen its social commitment as part of its day-to-day activities, » explained SDS managing director, Émile Roux.
« Building on the success of the service points for the homeless introduced a few years ago in a number of downtown métro stations, the STM wishes to uphold its commitment by taking part, jointly with the SDS, in the establishment of a pilot program focused on the potential employability of homeless persons who have or are hanging out in the Montréal métro and who want to reintegrate society. The goal is to keep the program going with other volunteers if results are conclusive, » added STM board chairman, Philippe Schnobb.
« Concerned with helping out the city’s homeless, the city of Montréal welcomes this initiative, as it is perfectly in line with its 2014 - 2017 action plan to combat homelessness. To that end, improving how public space is shared by transit users and the homeless is part of the activities contained in the plan. Today’s announcement comes as one more step in helping the homeless, insofar as a pre-employability program is offered to them inside the métro, » declared Montréal mayor, Denis Coderre.
Pair aidant, a program that adds value to the service point for the homeless
The Pair aidant program will benefit from the services of three social workers from the service point for the homeless (PSI), along with a team of volunteers recruited from partner organizations and who are themselves homeless. These helpful peers are legitimate members of the PSI intervention team and are always accompanied by and under the supervision of a designated social worker. The main tasks performed by volunteers inside the métro include:
- Help with approaching people who inject or consume drugs;
- Help with providing references to other available resources;
- Help with convincing people in difficult circumstances to accept the offered help;
- Help with establishing a bond of trust with the social worker;
- Help with increasing the degree of safety of an intervention.
The STM reminds that the service point for the homeless (PSI) operates inside five downtown métro stations to help the homeless. As part of its activities, the service point offers psychosocial interventions by a team of three social workers recruited from two community groups. Furthermore, from December 1 to April 1, a shuttle service is also provided at Bonaventure métro station, in collaboration with the SDS and the Old Brewery Mission (OBM), for any homeless person inside the station at closing time who willingly agrees to go to a shelter for the night. On site, STM inspectors accompany the OBM social workers during their rounds in the station to encourage those in need to take advantage of that service. Since it was first introduced in 2013, some 500 people have benefitted from the shuttle service.
About the SDS
Since 2008, the SDS has taken action as the first broker for social values in North America. By establishing a link between private enterprise and non-profit organizations, it develops tangible, measurable projects that help to combat against poverty and homelessness.