Living with a mental illness can be pretty lonely and bleak. The isolation and lack of resources that face people who've 'fallen out' of the main-stream can be daunting.
It often means living on a minimal income and getting by in marginal accommodation. Situations and tools for learning and improving skills can be beyond reach. For recreation and positive social contacts, opportunities are slim.
One place that attempts to change the scene for individuals who have had direct experience with mental illness is A C E .-- the Association of Consumer Empowerment. The 'C' for Consumer stands not for consumers of material things, but for people who have had to make use of mental health services.
Since 1993 ACE has been evolving in the upper floor of this building within walking distance of the downtown core. There's a lot going on inside.....
Two part time co-ordinators and many volunteers share responsibility of keeping the space open, making people welcome, and helping members make good use of the resources, as well as handling the business of running a fairly complex organization. Bill Pope has been Activities Coordinator since January 1994
[ Bill ]
The computer lab has state-of-the-art equipment and software and the four terminals are used for recreation, up grading skills and accessing the "information highway". There are classes offered and there usually people about to help you over the hurdles June Bacon has been involved as a member of Ace since 1993.
ACE's pottery studio is a good place to get centered. Classes are offered by experienced crafts people twice a week. All ACE's activities are set up on a drop-in basis allowing lots of comfort and flexibility for members who may be tentative about firm commitments.
Ace also has video equipment. The TV room is gets lots of recreational use, but members have also have opportunities to use a camera and to review tapes of workshops members themselves can produce.
There's always coffee on
There's no charge to become a member of ACE. It's mandate is to serve people who have had direct experience of mental illness - but participation of families and health care professionals is encouraged.
In the largest multi-purpose room the walls are papered after a planning meeting.
ACE is still evolving - it can become anything it's members wish - and work - to make it. The Ass. of Cons. Empowerment is a place to do art, workout, get involved in advocacy, recreation, networking, learn new skills or practice old ones - or just a clean other place to drop in, have a coffee see what's going on, and feel welcome.
ACE is open weekdays 12 to 4 and some evenings. It's address is 6E - 2333 Government Street. It's a bit tricky to find - the courtyard parking lot is accessed from Government street by a ramp beside the Rattan Shop. And there is another access on the North side of the Dairy Queen on Douglas St.
The phone number is 480-0964. Call anytime for more information.
Bill Pope Activities Co-ordinator
Linda Webster-Taggart A.C.E. member
June Bacon Administrative Co-ordinator
Ingrid Olson Mercer a founding member
Camera: Bruce Saunders, Chris Dickeson, Richard Nicholson & Ingrid Olson MercerMusic: Jonathen ____?, Ingrid Olson Mercer (Piano) & ? Guitar
Editing: Bruce Saunders
Special Thanks to: Janie Oliver
Rob Heidi & Kait @Shaw
Clive Holden - camera
Crones & Colitis Ass. - sound equipment
and all participating A.C.E. members