When Barkley Engel saw an immense need for better support services for Winnipeggers, he decided to spark the change and started Turning Leaf.
Turning Leaf is a Winnipeg-based non-profit dedicated to providing crisis and treatment services to those in need. Whether it’s providing crisis intervention for those struggling with mental illness, conflict with the law, homelessness or daily living, Turning Leaf is there.
We spoke with Founder/CEO Barkley Engel about his inspiration for starting Turning Leaf, its services and the overall importance of mental health.
What was your inspiration for starting Turning Leaf?
I started Turning Leaf about 12 and ½ years ago largely because there was a massive need. We saw vulnerable and marginalized people repeatedly falling through gaps in the social services, justice, and medical system. We knew that what we could offer could be innovative enough to help interrupt these cycles and bring people through a process of change.
What are your thoughts on the importance of mental health?
This remains one of the most universally present yet universally misunderstood health issues in our community. Everyone has mental health. Everyone has the potential to experience mental illness and many do either personally or through a family member. Viewing it through that lens – that lens that normalizes it – is critical for people in their understanding of our population. When you see a seemingly homeless, addicted, disheveled, person on the street corner, talking to himself, one frequently assumes a variety of things: he’s crazy, dirty, dangerous. But to us, that is a son, uncle, brother of someone who is likely struggling with a health issue. It may very well be a mental illness, treatable and worthy of unconditional acceptance and compassion.
What sort of training and support programming does Turning Leaf offer?
Turning Leaf provides crisis intervention, residential treatment, community outreach, women-at-risk shelters, harm reduction homes, counselling and psychological services. I would encourage those with questions about us or our potential to help to connect with us at turningleafservices.ca.
Anything else you would like to add about Turning Leaf?
You know, we just want people to know we provide the most vulnerable and marginalized people around you with unconditional acceptance and empowering change.
For example, we help individuals struggling with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in conflict with the law, get out of jail, and make healthy and safe decisions. We help intellectually challenged women, exploited by the sex trade, live a safe life away from people that will hurt them. We help people who suffer from the voices out in their head to get the medical help and medications they need so they can be the sons and daughters that their parents want them to be without thinking about hurting themselves or hurting people.
We meet hurting people where they are – fallen through the cracks in our system – and design help just for them. We surround them with a community so that we can help empower a process of change, from being hurt to not being hurt, from being hopeless to being hopeful, to being hungry to being fed, clothed, healed and counseled.
At Turning Leaf, we provide unconditional acceptance and empowering change.
For more information or learn how to access their services, please visit TurningLeafServices.ca