Andrew is Shalem’s WrapAround Development Director and the National Development Director for Wrap Canada. He is a leading figure in the development of the program in Canada, traveling to support WrapAround initiatives across the country. Andrew is passionate about WrapAround and the impact it has with families who have complex needs. Here he describes his work in his own words:
I feel blessed every morning when I wake up knowing that I live in Canada, a country filled with hope and endless possibilities.
And yet across Canada I have met some youth and parents who are filled with despair. They see no possibilities for themselves, for their children, or for their partners.
These feelings of despair have often led them to thoughts and actions of anger towards others. These same feelings sometimes lead them to giving up, to acts of self-harm and, occasionally suicide.
This is the reality that way too many children, youth and adults and their families in Canada face on a daily basis.
Their lives are impacted by the facts that most of these people are dealing with abject poverty, have been or are at risk of becoming homeless and have experienced violence either in the home or on the streets. Many of them also deal with serious physical and mental health issues, and social isolation.
This is the context within which I work.
I provide training, live field coaching and project development support to teams of staff in implementing the Canadian WrapAround model with the children, youth and families whom they serve.
I am currently working with staff in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and Winnipeg, as well as on reserves north and south of Brandon. I am providing support to staff working in Youth Gang Prevention projects who are implementing the Canadian WrapAround model. I come away from working with these groups of staff and the people whom they are serving feeling awestruck by the need and by their response to it.
The purpose of our work in WrapAround is to provide unconditional support to those most in need, to assist them in accessing and engaging in new possibilities for themselves, and to connect them to positive social supports and people in their community who can “wrap” services and supports around them in order to assist them in developing a long term community of support for themselves.
We do this by building on their strengths and connecting them with the people they want to have on their team. Yes, their strengths and the support people that they choose. In spite of the incredible challenges they face and the problems that they are dealing with they still have strengths and the capacity for change.
This is not a quick process. It can take anywhere from a year to sometimes two or even three years. We don’t quit until we are sure that they can move forward on their own.
And, most important of all, we assist them to find hope again in their lives for a better life today, tomorrow and into the future.