Homeless non-profit creates trauma support group in Decatur

WAFF's Megan Plotka reporting
Published: May. 12, 2023 at 12:07 PM CDT
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - Decatur is seeing a fast rise in its homeless population and non-profit Hands Across Decatur is doing all it can to help unhoused people.

Homeless people face many difficulties while living on the street. Most of the homeless community face trauma from the rampant sexual violence and the uncertainty of day-to-day life.

Hands Across Decatur leaders saw how all encompassing the trauma can become so they started a free, weekly trauma support group led by workers with the Mental Health Association of Morgan County like Karly Bishop. She says this is an essential program for homeless people because most of them don’t have access to health insurance to afford counseling.

“I feel like a lot of the times people don’t realize that homeless people are people too,” Bishop said. “They deserve to be able to access to somewhat of a counseling session or access to be able to openly talk about what they’ve been through in their lives because I personally feel like that’s not a common topic with them.”

While the group caters to unhoused people, anyone can benefit from the program. About half of the participants are not homeless. Attendee Brad Johnson used to be homeless and he now volunteers at Hands Across Decatur. He thinks it’s good to bring unhoused and housed people together because he thinks homeless people need to be more humanized and programs like this can bring them more dignity.

WAFF's Megan Plotka reporting

The support group looks different each day. They always begin with an icebreaker and then they either do an activity or just share about their lives. Attendees say it’s a game changer.

“We through a lot of different situations that are unimaginable and for some it’s harder then others to come up out of it,” attendee Andrea Bryant said. “This really helps them to be able to understand their situation and how to cope with that situation.”

“It’s good to have that, that venting that release,” Johnson said. “You know, because you can, you can only hold it inside so much before you just literally snap.”

The support group is every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Hands Across Decatur.

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