Once homeless Winnipeg man opens door to new home and fresh start

Robert Lidstone finally has a place to call home. Files.

A Winnipeg man, who has experienced homelessness off and on since 2016, is moving into his new home.

Robert Lidstone finally has a permanent place to lay his head after being in and out of  21-day addictions recovery programs and shelters without having somewhere to call his own.

“I’m finally in my own home, and I can settle, and that’s the first time that I’ve done that in many years,” Lidstone said.

Global News first met Lidstone at a Saint Boniface Street Links warming space on a frigid, Winterpeg January.

Even then, he was limping through homelessness while trying to recover from frostbite on both his feet — a courtesy of spending hours in the freezing temperatures while high on meth.

“I’ve struggled since 2006 with a substance use issue. It wasn’t until quite a bit later than that–about 2017–that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder,” Lidstone said. “When you put meth and bipolar disorder together, you have a lot of unmanageability.”

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Lidstone said it wasn’t for a lack of trying to get sober.

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“I’ve been in just about everything. I’ve been in private treatment, which is quite expensive,” he said. “My family was able to fund that, but we got to the point where it was no longer affordable. It’s really out of reach for so many people.”

“When I found methamphetamine, it pretty quickly turned into something that I didn’t feel a sense of control over,” Lidstone said.

Since then, the 42-year-old post-secondary graduate said he has discovered accountability and direction in a shared sober living space organized through Street Links.

“What’s actually working the best for me these days is just to live in community,” he said.

As he regains stability in his life, Lidstone said he’s also finding purpose sharing his lived experiences with others.

On Tuesdays leading up to the provincial election, he said he’ll meet with a group at noon in front of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Lidstone said they will do a walk and talk to the Manitoba Legislature, carrying the hope that gaps in addictions and mental health care will close.

“I think we need to connect harm reduction [to] recovery more,” Lidstone said. “To me, it’s gotten a little bit polarized. You have abstinence-based recovery over here and harm reduction over here, and they actually really need to work together to not only save lives, but to help people create that life they want to live.”
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For now, he’s unpacking one box at a time, and says he’s glad he’s uncovered the sense of home and peace that’s eluded him for so long.

— with files from Rosanna Hempel

Click to play video: 'Main Street Project on Winnipeg homeless situation'
Main Street Project on Winnipeg homeless situation

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