Did you know that the federal government estimates there are about 30 000 homeless people in the city of Montreal? That represents about 20% of all the homeless people in the country (1)! Weirdly enough, we hardly every hear this issue being addressed. In fact, data from 2011 shows that only a little over than 1600 places are available to shelter the homeless in Montreal (2)! We could spend hours talking about the issues and reasons around homelessness. Blankets for the Homeless decided there was a much better recipe for change: sharing stories and getting involved.
Thanks to Humans of the Street, a Montreal-based project aimed at raising awareness through the art of photography and storytelling, and the photographer behind it all, Mikaël Theimer, Blankets for the Homeless has been sharing touching and moving stories about individual homeless people in the Greater Montreal Area.
These stories always include stunning photography, an insightful quote, and a bit of background information on the person being interviewed and where you can find them. The goal is simple: a window into these individuals’ lives might abolish some preconceived ideas we may have of them. Social invisibility is one of the main forms of contempt for the marginalized and simply acknowledging their presence can go a very long way in their recovery.
Getting involved is perhaps the most effective way of making progress. This is accomplished not only through catering to the needs of the impoverished, but also by giving them a sense of existence. Blankets for the Homeless have been organizing food and clothing drives, in public settings, aimed at fostering conversation and connections above all.
All are invited during these events, where you’re given the opportunity to get to know your fellow Montrealers, their stories, their triumphs, and their struggles as human beings and as neighbours. There are four ways you can get involved:
1. Show up to their events. These are announced on their Facebook page (donations are not obligatory). Your presence alone can make a difference. Sometimes even some coffee or hot chocolate can go a very long way.
2. Contribute clothing. A common wish list consists of: socks, underwear, jeans, t-shirts, winter gear, boots, sanitary napkins for the ladies, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and shampoo.
3. Contribute food. Canned food is always preferable. They also accept prepping food such as peanut butter, jelly, bread, fruits, etc. However, if you plan on showing up to a gathering, warm plates are often appreciated and welcomed with big hugs and smiles. Common wish lists include: sandwiches, tuna, ham, beans, corn, and much more.
4. Monetary contributions. A lot of costs come into play during these drives. Your donation would be used towards clothing and food and will be given directly to homeless people present at the drive. They are the only ones to benefit.
For more information or to participate, you can contact Blankets for the Homeless by inboxing them directly on their Facebook page.
 Source : L’omniprésente Itinérance, Philippe Orfali, Le Devoir, 26 juillet 2014
 Source : L’itinérance à Montréal en chiffre, Radio Canada, 4 Février 2014