Living Spaces Project
The Living Spaces project is an initiative of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller, Victoria Commandery. The project provides assistance to people in supported housing in the Greater Victoria area. It was launched in December 2007 through the Victoria Hospitals Foundation in affiliation with the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA). The Sovereign Order of St. John’s Living Spaces project makes a positive difference in the lives of many people in our community who have been facing challenges.
The Victoria Commandery has made a substancial committment financially to the project where, to date $ 219,264.00 has been donated since its inception in 2007.
Impact of the Living Spaces Project
The Victoria Hospitals Foundation works with the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) and serves as the interface for the Living Spaces project. Living Spaces supports VIHA’s commitment to providing residential services to individuals who cannot presently live independently in the community because of mental illness.
This residential program helps individuals attain optimal levels of functioning in the community by providing a continuum of services based on client needs, and that aim to encourage community reintegration and optimal independence.
The program operates at various levels, including supported housing, which also provides tenants with access to support services that can encompass life skills training — such as income management, job training, and medication management — as well as medical care, social activities, and case management.
Since expanding the Living Spaces project to VIHA’s Acute Community Treatment (ACT) team clients, the number of orders through the program has significantly increased because of the extreme needs of this client population. But the successful efforts of the ACT teams are beginning to have a real impact on the community, as well as the clients themselves. Many clients who have been living on the street or surfing between friends’ homes and shelters are now being housed in their own apartments.
Some recent examples of the impact the Living Spaces project has had:
A client living at a VIHA supported housing facility after being homeless for several months now feels a sense of pride in his place as a result of his new bed and bedding. One of the only positive things he could remember from his childhood was having a clean and organized home. Now, having a home and matching bedding of his own provides a sense of grounding, which has significantly helped his recovery from addiction and mental health challenges. A client living at a VIHA housing facility who had lost contact with his family and had spent a long time living on the street, said that having members of the community show compassion for his situation helped him feel less alone and isolated during his struggles with addiction and mental health issues. Receiving his own bed and bedding in his new home gave him a fresh start and alleviated some of the obstacles he faces. Future Developments
Start-up kits are still being considered as an additional element to the Living Spaces project.
Providing clients who have next to nothing with a package of basic household items would help them achieve greater comfort in their homes and complements the existing elements of the program, but the present challenge is finding a willing vendor to put the kits together. Options are currently being explored for partnering and cost-sharing.