Gerstein on Bloor offers 24-hour supported short-term residential crisis beds (14) offering up to 30 day stays to individuals in crisis who are dealing with a mental health issue and current involvement in the criminal justice system and /or homelessness.
The FRESH – Finding Recovery through Exercise, Skills and Hope—program is designed for current clients and those who are now living in the community continuing their recovery process. The program is staffed by a coordinator and consumer/survivors (2.5 FRESH workers) to offer a peer support recovery model with an emphasis on physical activity, exercise and social involvement. The FRESH workers are individuals who have used physical activity as an important tool for their recovery and have an interest in sharing that experience with others. Individual participants are linked to a FRESH worker following their stay at Gerstein on Bloor to support them in maintaining physical activity as part of their wellness plan. Along with this one-to-one support, weekly opportunities for group activities, including team sports, such as hockey, are offered.
Training for the FRESH program included the following:
- Participation in a Boundless Adventure camping trip
- Mental Health Awareness
- Trouble Shooting
- Safety in the Community
- Basic Principles of Physical Activity
- Power Imbalance
- Boundary Setting
- WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan)
Among the successes of the program were the development of the peer workers and the community partnerships. Among those hired by the Gerstein Centre for their FRESH program, one person gained the confidence to move on and find full-time work elsewhere.
The program developed stronger partnerships. For example, Gerstein works more closely with the YMCA to meet the needs of clients beyond the purchased community memberships. Staff at the Gerstein Centre allayed concerns which allowed this YMCA branch to develop a better understanding as to how they could reach out to people in recovery with the support of FRESH workers. Additionally, a FRESH worker helped a client gain their own subsidized membership.
Other partners include the City of Toronto Parks and Recreation (for hockey ice time) and animators of Dufferin Grove Park to offer outdoor activities such as ball hockey, volleyball, baseball and badminton. Gerstein on Bloor also continues to partner with social service organizations that have provided facility space and participant outreach.