The Shelter for Men-in-Crisis began operating in 2003 and provides temporary housing to ex-offenders. These ex-offenders might have been rejected by their families for various reasons or not have a conducive home environment for their return. NHCS believes in giving them a second chance and assisting them to rebuild their lives, so that they can reintegrate into the society.
At the shelter, the duration of stay is 3 months. During this period, the Case Managers will work with the residents to develop an Individualized Care Plan focusing on their employment and long term or permanent housing solutions. Apart from that, the Case Manager is also a counsellor when they need someone to talk to and a mediator, when they have conflicts with another resident.
Life-skills trainings, an important component of the shelter as it imparts knowledge, are held twice a month and attendance is compulsory. Topics include "Budgeting", "Problem Solving Skills", "Your Health and You" and "Truth About Smoking". To encourage the residents to save money by cooking, food ration is also provided monthly.
The support Group is a new initiative launched by the shelter in cooperation with another agency. All the residents are encouraged to attend. The aim is to bring them together to share coping strategies so that they can feel more empowered and instill a sense of community.
Regular Counseling Sessions
The primary aim of New Hope Shelter for Men-in-Crisis is to facilitate and explore long-term and/or permanent housing solutions for the residents. We also aspire to inculcate a sense of self-reliance in our residents. Regular counselling sessions are held with the clients where guidance and advice are given to help residence make important decisions in their lives.
We also recognize that many of our residents do not have the requisite life-skills that many of us have, which enable us to make appropriate decisions or enable us to react appropriately in any given situation. Therefore, we also make life-skills training an important component of the programme for the men in our shelter.
We have identified six key components for the life-skills training.
1. Anger Management,
2. Coping with Loneliness,
3. Communication Skills,
4. Budgeting Skills,
5. Overcoming Bad Habits &
6. Cultivating Good Ones and Goal Settings.
Besides our Case Manager who conducts some of these courses, we also rope in committed volunteers to run some of these trainings for us.
Individualized Care Plan
We have also made Individualised Care Plan the cornerstone of our service to the residents of the Shelter for Men-in-Crisis. As the need of every resident is different and because common solutions cannot be applied for needs that are unique to the resident, a care-plan that is 'tailor-made' for the resident by the Case manager in consultation with the resident. The resident takes ownership of his care plan, which then becomes the basis of our support for him.
The shelter staff also makes a conscious effort in trying to mediate between the residents and their estranged families to facilitate reconciliation, which is another important ingredient in their reintegration into the community.
The guidance counselling, the life-skills training the individualised care-plan and the mediation sessions, have become essential platforms in helping our residents reintegrate back into society.
The shelter serves as a 'safe place' for many of the residents as it prevents them from associating with their previous bad influences. The Shelter is also very often likened to a 'family' by many of the residents who do not have any family or next of kin, as it becomes a place they can call 'home'. Those who are older would sometimes take care of the younger residents. There is some sense of brotherly care and concern among them. Some of our residents have even given talks to schools and some other organisations to share their experiences of the bad choices that they have made in life, which had led them to imprisonment and current predicament, hence contributing back to society.
Of course, the challenges are many in the Shelter for Men-in-Crisis as well. The staff would have to mediate and manage when arguments would break out among residents on occasions, due to their diverse background and character differences. The staffs have to employ a lot of patience and positive-thinking approach in helping the residents cope with their personal bad habits like addiction to tobaccos and alcohol, as well as their bad temperament, behavioural issues and undesirable attitudes. The staffs have had to also constantly motivate the residents to remain in employment as the men often have low self-esteem and poor people-relationship skills. The residents often have poor budgeting skills whereby they don't budget their money for necessities like transportation and food, which affects their employability as well. Ingraining in the residents the importance of observing the shelter rules and regulations is another big challenge as many of the residents view rules and regulations as being restrictive and not as essential guidelines, which serves to protect the well-being of the residents.
There are currently 45 residents in the Shelter for Men-in-Crisis. We have rented a second premise to increase our intake to 60. Plans to set-up a social enterprise to provide employment to the residents in the shelter is also in the works. The Shelter for Men-in-Crisis has stayed true to its objective of providing interim/temporary shelter especially to ex-offenders, while assisting them with reintegration into society through long-term housing, employment, financial self-reliance and family reunification.