A few weeks ago there was an article with the women living at the Vivian, because it was important to find out what they thought and if they wanted to share their side of the story. The women living at the ‘Viv’ arranged a meeting to express their concerns about the article, and two of the women decided to write letters to the editor, one of which was edited and published. You can read the scanned letter in its entirety here.
Here is the unpublished letter that was dictated to a Vivian staff member:
My name is Shannon, I’m 25, I moved into the Vivian just before Christmas and that would have been my first Christmas that I got gifts and got experience a Christmas for the first time in my whole life.
I got onto the methadone program here and I see my son every Saturday, something I wasn’t able to do this before. I enjoy getting to be a mum for my son. The staff give me the extra encouragement to stay healthy and get stable, get on methadone so I can be stable enough to see my son once a week.
This place done a lot of good for me. I’ve learned to be a better person and be more stable. I actually have a home. I’m learning how to do things that I couldn’t do before. For one, I’m learning job-training skills. I’m learning how to be more independent and interact with people. I’m learning a lot about respecting others and that we all live here and work together. This is our home. It’s a safe place for all of us. If we didn’t have this here we wouldn’t have nothing. It’s a very positive place.
I feel like I have more self-esteem. I know what it’s like to be cared about and wanted. To feel safe and that I have my own home, because this is my home. The staff come here everyday to help out one-on-one. People are not living here in a hotel, it’s a home.
I think it’s great to have the support of the staff. I really like the art that we do and all the activities. We have fun and just get to relax.
It’s a really good place. I’ve told other friends I know who are unsafe to live here. It’s a place that I would recommend to people. It gives you a chance to know what success feels like. You don’t feel put down or shut out.
Not only do women living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside need to have safe, supported housing, they need to have their voices heard. Thank you Laura Anne and Shannon for sharing your stories. And thank you for taking the time to listen.