Unignorable Issues – Stories

Man sitting on a matress on the floor in a blue hoody. Pulling out a backpack out of a tubberware container. He appears to be at a shelter.




Heather’s Story

“I used to hate summer holidays and didn’t want to go back to school.

“My family could never afford a holiday and all summer long I had to look after my younger brother and sister. At times, I hid under the covers trying to escape the sound of my parents fighting. In the fall, I wore last year’s clothes because my family couldn’t afford new ones and I dreaded teachers asking me what I did during the summer because all I did was survive.

“Then I was matched with my mentor.

“From that point on, my days were filled with activities and I had the chance to enjoy lots of fun and friendship. I received a backpack and school supplies as well as a second pair of shoes thanks to the mentorship program I was part of, and my mentor even took me shopping for new clothes!

“Now, I look forward to going back to school and sharing my happy summer memories. Thank you to my mentor for caring and making me feel loved.”



Spencer’s Story

Spencer was 17 and in his final year of high school when his school reached out to find a program that would provide him with a safe place to stay.

Spencer had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of his father and was left suffering from depression and struggling with questions about his sexuality. Because of circumstances in her own life, Spencer’s mother Agnes found it difficult to talk with Spencer about his problems or accept what was happening to him.

Thanks to United Way Perth-Huron, Spencer was able to find help when and where he needed it—spending one year and eight months in a secure environment where he could begin to figure his life out. He went to class every day and worked hard to finish high school.

Now, Spencer has an apartment of his own, a job, and is able to reach out for help whenever he needs it to support his fresh chance for a better life.


Mental Health

Scott’s Story

Scott grew up in a small town just outside of Stratford. He had strong family roots, participated in extracurricular and was recognized for being a good student. When he was 13, Scott went to a party without his parents’ permission and was sexually assaulted.  Scott didn’t tell his family or friends because he was ashamed. Shortly after, Scott turned to substances to cope with his trauma. He became involved with the criminal justice system at age 18 and eventually was sentenced to a federal institution at age 25.

While serving time in the Kingston Penitentiary, Scott connected with an institutional worker from the John Howard Society and began accessing services — a partnership that continued after his release when he moved to London.

After arriving in his new home, Scott struggled at first to get his life back on track. After some setbacks, and plenty of hard work to learn how to manage his thoughts and emotions, Scott’s life is now moving in a better direction.

Scott still keeps in touch with the John Howard Society, is sober, and receives counselling to deal with his trauma. He takes karate classes and surrounds himself with positive influences.


Domestic Violence

Jenna and Cole’s Story

Jenna and her brother Cole have been seeing the children’s worker for over a year. They live with their grandmother and grandfather in a small Huron County community. For the first few years of their young lives, they witnessed horrific abuse of their mother. The trauma these children experienced came to the surface in the form of seizure-like episodes, night terrors, dissociation and violent acting out. After a year in counselling with a children’s worker, Jenna and Cole are sleeping through the night, have become communicative and happier, violence and seizures are infrequent, and grandma and grandpa are feeling less worried about the two youngsters.



Claire’s Story

Claire had to get out of the hospital.

In spite of just going through breast cancer surgery, and still with a catheter, Claire asked to be discharged so she could attend a mobile food bank in her area. In reality, she shouldn’t have been out of the hospital let alone outside waiting for a food hamper, but the mobile food bank was Claire’s only source of food.

After receiving her hamper, mobile food bank staff gave her a ride home — moved by Claire’s situation and her determination to make sure she had food to eat even in the most difficult circumstances. Claire faced an enormous struggle, but she was able to keep going thanks to a United Way supported partner.


Social Isolation

Louise’s Story

90-year-old Louise lived in a retirement residence and was dependent on the use of a wheelchair. During the winter, she fell and needed to make frequent visits to a medical clinic in London. Before her fall, Louise could get in and out of vehicles without any problems but afterwards, even this simple activity became unsafe and Louise started feeling isolated.

Louise’s family reached out for help getting her to and from appointments and surgery dates. They were happy to discover that not only could they access a service offering a wheelchair accessible vehicle, a driver was able to accommodate her early appointments. This allowed Louise to receive the medical attention she needed while still living at her residence. Without accessible transportation, Louise would have had to remain in hospital, disconnected from her friends and community.


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