Father wants to see more crisis supports

By Ashley Wiebe
August 11, 2017 - 4:53pm Updated: August 11, 2017 - 7:02pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB — One man is saying he had nowhere to turn when he found himself in a crisis situation.

He was left alone with his two children after their mother had been taken from their home following a mental health call.

Jamie Keats said all of this happened back in March.

At the time, he was living in Calgary and was in Medicine Hat visiting his newborn daughter at her mother’s house.

A situation unfolded and ultimately the child’s mother was taken from the home.

Keats was left with his daughter and step daughter and didn’t have any place to go.

He didn’t feel safe staying in her house and said when Child and Family Services arrived at the house, he asked that he and his kids be taken to a shelter.

He soon found out there isn’t a reliable service for fathers found in a crisis situation.

“When I know I can access a shelter in an emergency crisis regardless of the circumstances, why wasn’t I allowed to do that?” he said. “It comes right down to a technicality ‘cause of my gender, because the fact that I had kids. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

Keats said he asked the support worker about finding a shelter or even the option of being put up in a hotel but was told to stay at the house, even though he didn’t live there.

He was eventually moved into a hotel.

Natasha Carvalho with the Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society said they’re always available to help someone in need and said it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman.

The shelter expanded their programs this year to be able to help men in a crisis find supports.

The shelter is now able to focus on the whole family and not just the women and children.

She said while they may not be able to offer a safe place for a man to stay, there’s always someone available who can help make those connections.

Carvalho said she knows it’s not always easy to ask for help or to know who to call.

“For so many people, you don’t expect to ever be in a situation like that and so when it does come at you, you’re like ‘woah’,” she said. “I think that’s exactly what happens for people, they’re just overwhelmed and when there’s children involved, it sort of takes it to a whole other level of responsibility and wanting to support your kids and making sure they’re safe too.”

Carvalho said there’s always a solution to finding a safe place to stay, but people have to make that first phone call and ask for help.

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