Simple rituals of togetherness bring us together as friends, families, and communities and play an important part in maintaining our well-being. We share food, laughs, and our struggles; helping each other through the ups and down of life. Many people impacted by HIV lack this support, often due to stigma, social isolation, and poverty. Bruce House has two programs designed to help fill that void.
The Community Kitchen is a place for clients to share food, learn about nutrition and food budgeting, and gather together with peers. The Kitchen also reduces social isolation and provides a stigma-free place for peer engagement. Hosted by Massine’s Your Independent Grocer on Bank St., this program is scheduled at the end of the month, in the knowledge that many of our clients run short of funds at this time and the extra meals they can bring home greatly help.
Bruce House also holds monthly Client Socials, which provide a variety of activities from movie nights to life-skills training, trivia games to guest speakers. “Like the Kitchen, the monthly Socials provide a stepping-stone to more social contact,” explains Doug Cooper, Manager of Client Programs and Services, “by bringing clients together with others they can relate to.” These socials are hosted by Somerset West Community Health Centre.
Both these monthly programs help to reduce the social isolation that can come with living with a chronic illness that is misunderstood by much of society, by helping people living with HIV connect with their peers through stimulating programming. They have had been developed from client feedback and requests, as we are an organization committed to GIPA (the Greater Involvement of People living with HIV/AIDS) and MIPA (Meaningful Involvement of People Living with HIV).
If you missed our previous article on social isolation: http://brucehouse.ca/social-isolation-the-health-crisis-you-never-hear-about/
“I have been living in one of Bruce House apartment since 1996, and I am very blessed to have a safe place to live.
I started to go to the Community Kitchen with Doug and now with Lana, from 10 am to 1 pm once a month. We get to share each of our meals with each other. This helps us especially near the end of the month when money is short. As we are very diverse in our community we learn to teach each other new dishes.
Our Monthly Social meets once a month from 6 pm – 9 pm. We have dinner and then each month we either play games, learn to plant herbs, play trivia, discus mental health, budget, or depression. We also love to watch movies. This gets us out and to meet other client as we don’t all live in the same building.”