TORONTO —; The Good Neighbours’ Club is a home-away-from-home for men over the age of 50 who are in shelters and rooming houses. It is a place where everyone can feel safe, respected, and understood.
“The Good Neighbours’ Club is an organization that provides services exclusively to older adult, homeless men,” said mental health worker and counsellor, Elliot Nourse.
Members are welcome to the club between 8 p.m. and 5 p.m., 365 days a year with access to essentials that men of limited means might need; such as hot meals for a dollar, shower and laundry facilities for 50 cents and free clothing.
“There should be a place like this in every city because there are a lot of people over 50-years-old that really have nowhere to go. They sit at home in a room and look at walls all day or they wander around the streets,” said club member, Alan O’Leary.
For most men here, this is a place to spend the day before heading back to shelters, rooming houses, or bunking on a friend’s couch or even a park bench.
“I counselled some who were doctors, others were engineers, we have professional Olympic athletes —; a wide range of professionals who somewhere down the road was unable to retain what they had built and it generally stems from divorce, mental health depression, psychosis and then this becomes a reality for them,” said Nourse.
Other services offered at the club include counselling and crisis support, assisting men to obtain and maintain housing, recreational programming, nursing care and more.
“Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to provide a lot of the services that we do. We wouldn’t be able to give out winter jackets three times a week, we wouldn’t be able to take the guys out on field trips like baseball games, we wouldn’t be able to serve any of the meals, so it’s a big part of the club,” said volunteer development coordinator, Heather Lockie.
By helping these men find a safe place, the staff offers many services to the members of the club routinely to ensure the men are taken care of.
“We have roughly 400 men cycle through The Good Neighbours’ Club on a daily basis. They are highly susceptible to victimization and this club provides a refuge for them- But just to pave the way to make it a little bit smoother for them,” said Nourse.
Despite the large numbers, members of the club get the individual treatment and service they search for when coming to the club.
“It gives me something to do like explore the world through the Internet —; (you) can’t do that in shelters,” said O’Leary.
“So yeah, it’s just the way it should be. People helping people.”