The Bridge: From Prison to Community ( Hamilton Ontario)
“ To provide healing and support for all those affected by crime – victims, offenders, their families and the community.”
The Bridge offers many services to ex-offenders to help them rebuild their lives.
Discharge Planing :
Bridge provides discharge planning for all those returning from correctional facilities and prisons to the Hamilton area, servicing about 350 people in the past year with practical and rehabilitation referrals. In January 2000, we received a chaplaincy mandate through The Ontario Multifaith Council to deal with homelessness in Hamilton. Our mandate was to provide for prisoners being released, specific practical and spiritual support through volunteer teams, trained in the local faith groups.
- Transitional Housing: Bridge House has six rooms which are rented to men upon exiting a correctional facility. The rooms are priced at a level the clients can afford, and include heating, air conditioning, phone and cable TV. All rooms are furnished. There is a kitchen and bathroom shared between each set of three rooms.
- Anger Management: Due to the destructive repressive effects of imprisonment, we provide a weekly ex-offender’s program where stress and anger management, positive relationship and life skills are discussed with a spiritual basis. Bridge does not preach any specific religion but the spirituality of each individual is acknowledged and empowered and each participant recognizes the source of his or her higher power. The courage to move forward in renewed strength and faith is motivating. Since those with family support are less likely to re-offend and because families are always overwhelmingly affected, Bridge offers a weekly family support for women with people inside. Watching themselves act with assertive healthy skills makes their self-esteem soar. Many pastoral visits and advocacy are done with members of both these groups and individual counselling is available for all those affected by crime or the system. .
- Life Change Support: Bridge staff and volunteers provide support, including technical support, problem solving and advocacy in the areas of housing and job search, as well as other areas. Referrals are made where Bridge staff and volunteers do not have the required expertise to help. In addition, our staff provides a caring and respectful environment which enables our clients to focus on their strengths and what they have to bring to society, not just their past.
- Provision of identification (ie. birth certificates, social insurance card) through the Hamilton Urban Core Health Centre;
- Housing acquisition strategies through a Correctional Outreach Worker from the Hamilton Housing Help Centre PRIOR to discharge;
- Addiction treatment planning with a case worker from Suntrac prior to discharge;
- Financial management (trusteeship) through a case worker from Mission Services prior to discharge;.