Siloam Mission field trips give clients a rare escape from city life

Fresh air, bird watching and a bonfire. They're simple pleasures but valuable ones for clients at Siloam Mission in Winnipeg.

Very few homeless people get the chance to be in nature, says Siloam Mission

On Wednesday, Siloam Mission treated members of Winnipeg's homeless community to a day out at Birds Hill Park. 1:24

Fresh air, bird watching and a bonfire. They're simple pleasures but valuable ones for clients at Siloam Mission in Winnipeg.

On Wednesday homeless people taking part in Siloam's Transition Services program went on a rare field trip and spent a sunny winter day at Birds Hill Provincial Park.

The charity has been running field trips for about three years and trips to Birds Hill are among the most popular.

Melissa Morrisseau said she enjoyed a field trip to Birds Hill on Wednesday organized by Siloam Mission. (CBC)

Homeless people are rarely able to leave the city while they stand to benefit a lot from the experience, said Amy Reinink, manager of transition services at Siloam Mission.

"People really enjoy it," Reinink said. Clients say it helps them feel "normal," she said.

"Our most common feedback when we get back to the city is, 'oh gosh I wish it was longer,'" said Reinink.

For some, a trip to Birds Hill could be the first time they've ever left Winnipeg.

Melissa Morrisseau, a client with Siloam's Transition Services program, has travelled across Canada but never to rural Manitoba.

"I didn't know they had this stuff to offer not far from Winnipeg," Morrisseau said of Birds Hill.

"It's good to get out of the city and get some fresh air," she said.

Along with day trips like Wednesday's, Siloam also offers two overnight trips, one in the winter and one in the summer.

Reinink said the excursions help build relationships and trust.

"It's just a bunch of people hanging out, it's not professionals and their clients, it's just us hanging out," she said.

Reinink said the impact of being in nature can have lasting effects.

"In the weeks following a field trip you see a lot of motivation for people to move forward and to make changes," she said.

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