In 2008, Breakaway received funding to operate 40 units of Addictions Supportive Housing in partnership with Regeneration Community Services. Clients in these units are supported by five staff; three working directly for Breakaway and two seconded to Regeneration Community Services. This program, which operates from a housing first model, provides addiction supportive housing to people who experience chronic homelessness, and problematic substance use, and those who are high utilizers of hospital emergency room services, withdrawal management services, and have high rates of interaction with the criminal justice system.
In 2013, Breakaway received funding from the TCLHIN to establish an outreach service for individuals experiencing opiate dependence who were not receiving case management and support. The Toronto Opiate Support Team (TOST) operates in various locations throughout Toronto as an outreach team to engage with and advocate for people who are using opiates or replacement medications, and have little or no access to supportive services. TOST provides case management and counselling services and offers training and consultation to community service providers to increase community capacity to provide safe and effective services to people using opioid drugs. This team focuses on women, youth (up to 24), and older adults (55+). This program was full within a week of the staff being hired and continues to be fully subscribed. The program has established strong working partnerships with community agencies and physicians.
Since 2015, Breakaway has been providing management support and clinical guidance to Pieces to Pathways, a program by and for members of the LGBTQ community who are seeking help with substance related issues. P2P is a peer-led initiative creating Canada’s first substance use support program for LGBTTQQ2SIA youth 16 to 29 years old in Toronto. This program has been fully developed and run by people with lived experience from the LGBTQ community. The program was started with a six month “one time” grant from the TCLHIN and continued under a subsequent six month grant. After that the TCLHIN was unable to provide funding. Fortunately the program was able to secure funding from a private sponsor which kept the program running until October 2017 when the TCLHIN began to providing ongoing funding for P2P.
To better reflect the nature of our work, we changed our name to Breakaway Community Services in 2020. This change arose from a recognition that the word “addictions” is stigmatizing and narrows the scope of our work. The name change came alongside a re-branding initiative that embodies our commitment to leading with love, fostering unity, and creating community.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Breakaway began to design and deliver desperately needed grief and trauma support for front line harm reduction workers and community members. This work led to the creation of the Grief, Loss, and Wellness (GLoW) Initiative in 2021. The GLoW Initiative offers supports to frontline workers, community-facing management and coordinators, and community supporters who have been impacted by the trauma and overwhelming loss of the overdose crisis. 1-1 and group support is delivered by community members and practitioners, and is free of charge. In 2021-2022, the Initiative focuses on providing direct grief, loss and wellness supports to those on the frontlines (including peers and community members who are not formally employed in frontline positions). In 2022-2023. The program is expanding to include capacity building supports, such as skill-building trainings and resources to support teams and communities to respond to grief and loss.
In 2021, Breakaway began to host Through Ruff Times (TRT). This program is designed to support people who have pets as they experience various challenges such as poverty, homelessness, mental health and substance use, violent living conditions, and/or any other identified challenges. TRT offers pet care options so that people do not need to choose between keeping their pets and accessing support. The program offers no cost, temporary pet care for up to three months. This is made possible through a team of volunteer pet sitters. The program also provides free vet care, as well as pet food and supplies, for those who need it.