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Peer Support Service Sees Reality of Life On The Streets
PORT HAWKESBURY - He grew up in "the fields" of Isle Madame, eventually moving west with the hope of helping people on the streets and those struggling with mental illness, addiction, homelessness and similar issues.
And then Michael George fell into these same traps, becoming dependent on opioids and winding up on the streets himself.
Today, he's back in Cape Breton and heading up the seven-member board of directors for Fresh Start Peer Support, which is located on Port Hawkesbury's Granville Street at the property that housed Cameron's Music Sales for several decades.
And as the support service prepares to launch its second year of operation, with the hopes of eventually purchasing their building, George is hopeful that his own experience will help all those that have stumbled into patterns that prevent them from safely and securely living their lives.
"Anybody can make that mistake if they're down or depressed or anything," George told TELILE 24/7 host Adam Cooke, noting that he was married with three teenage children when he developed his own struggles with narcotics addiction.
"I lost everything. I ended up on the streets."
With this in mind, George and his colleagues have developed a multi-purpose facility that hosts weekly meetings for such organizations as Narcotics Anonymous but is also available for one-on-one peer counselling and referrals to long-term programs. While Fresh Start Peer Support is not set up as a permanent shelter, it is also able to provide temporary services such as shower facilities, a small cafe that offers food and hot beverages, and a go-between location for RCMP officials that have detained a person requiring immediate attention.
George, who cites his personal Christian faith as a key motivator in his efforts and his own ability to deal with his addictions, is also hoping to launch a weekly Christian youth drop-in program entitled Open Wings Youth Ministry.
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