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Meet Nicholas Singcaster, psychosocial counsellor at the mobile clinic

10 April 2024

Nicholas has been with the Old Brewery Mission for 16 years, where he has worked on teams in a variety of programs. His latest challenge? The mobile clinic, which celebrates its first anniversary this month.

Hi Nicholas, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to work at the Old Brewery Mission?

My name is Nicholas. I'm a psychosocial support worker on the mobile clinic team and I've been with the Old Brewery Mission for almost 16 years.

When I started at the Mission, I was just coming off sick leave. I had been working in customer service for a telecom. The stress of the call centre wasn't for me anymore. I looked on a job site and found a posting for an intervention worker on the night shift, 16 hours per week. I figured it wouldn’t be too mentally demanding. I applied and got the job.

It involved helping people with mental health or substance abuse problems transition to stable housing. Then I became a psychosocial counselor, and eventually a position opened up at the Webster Pavilion and I applied.

Have you always been interested in community work?

In the early 2000s, before joining the Old Brewery Mission, I started the Correctional Intervention program at Collège de Maisonneuve but I dropped out, and then I worked at various odd jobs. But I’ve always been interested in counselling.

Over time, I built up seniority at the Old Brewery Mission. I've had a winding career path, so I’ve worked on almost every program that exists. Last year, I was asked to take part in a new project that was about to start, the mobile clinic. I said, sign me up! It's something new. No two days will be the same. I'll be constantly on the go instead of behind a desk.

And the mobile clinic is now celebrating its first birthday. What does it do?
Its mission is to be present in public spaces frequented by people experiencing homelessness, reach out to them and offer a host of services. Among other things, we can help with filing tax returns, finding housing or referrals to emergency shelters.

A team of nurses provides medical services at the mobile clinic from time to time, mostly basic skin care, such as changing bandages and treating infections. If the case is too complex, they will refer the person to a medical clinic, make sure they get an appointment, and follow up. It's extremely difficult to navigate the healthcare system if you don't have a fixed address.

We also partner with the Mobile Legal Clinic, which offers legal advice. They can check to see if a person has missed a court date or is wanted by the police, or to verify their status. We're there to help.

What has been the response to the mobile clinic so far?

The most frequent comment is, "It's great, now we can get services on the spot." People are happy to see that it exists. I tell them I'm there every Wednesday or Thursday, to come back and see me. And when I come back the following week, people show up who weren't there at other times. The response has been very positive.

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