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The Kettle Society

"Faces of the Kettle" is a portraiture project featuring stories of individuals who both provide and receive service at the Kettle Society More →


The Kettle Society is a leading provider of mental health services in Vancouver, in operation since 1976.

They support people living with mental illness through housing, employment, advocacy and support services, raising awareness of mental health issues and promoting the inclusion of people living with mental illness in all aspects of society. To date the Kettle provides over 3,600 individuals with 26 services, a mental health drop-in, a transition house for women and over 200 units of supported housing.

As with many other non-profit institutions, the Kettle Society faces the ongoing challenge of bringing life to their successes; telling the stories of their members, employees and volunteers to funders, other institutions and the broader public.

“Faces of the Kettle” was conceived as a portraiture project and a space for these many stories and experiences. Inspired by The Humans of New York (HONY) project, each portrait is accompanied by an anecdotal quote, story, or bit of wisdom, reflecting the unique lived experience of each subject.

The portraits will be featured online through The Kettle’s social media networks and utilized for ongoing funding initiatives.

Mostly I have a hard time forgiving myself for the hurt I have caused people under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Kettle has made me feel I am worth something, it’s my sanctuary from drugs and alcohol.


I have been volunteering to cut hair, and even trim beards sometimes, for a year and a half. People are so grateful for a haircut, it makes them feel good, helps their self-esteem. My philosophy is Live, Laugh, Love.


Vancouver is very beautiful. I live at Main and Hastings. One day is bad with lots of anxiety, the next day is good. It helps me to be here at the Kettle drop-in, I feel comfortable and at home. I send whatever money I have back home to my mother. My goal is to go back to Iran someday, that will be my happiest moment.


I got so drunk one night I fell off a bar stool and chipped my shoulder. After that I said no more; now I don’t touch the booze and I don’t miss it. I’m happy being at Kettle on Burrard, I love this place and being off the streets. I just don’t want to move anymore.


I was homeless for a year and a half. I’m grateful to be alive. Life is pretty good since I moved into Kettle on Burrard. I have a service dog so it’s hard to find a place to live that will take me. I want to leave some good behind me, try to give back to make up for all the crap I’ve done.

Kelly (with guide-dog Bonnie)

I have survived exclusion. If you don’t fit the binary perfectly it’s easy and legitimate to exclude you. There is no such thing as a pure male or female brain – scientists have proven that. Loneliness is guaranteed. Because of my biology I am denied education, employment, the ability to rent an apartment or get a job.


Now is the happiest time in my life. When I first got sick I came to The Kettle and I got better. I haven’t been in hospital for 30 years. When I am down, I have my friends; people at The Kettle, my mum and dad. Gardening with the group is fun, I have learned a lot. We have a barbeque twice a year. My philosophy in life, always have a positive attitude.


My saddest and happiest moments were helping someone very close to me work through their recovery from psychosis and depression.


The sadist moment in my life was during my school graduation. I was up on stage, but they never called my name because I had failed courses. My mother was so mad. She wanted me to be the top student. I really disappointed myself. My philosophy in life? I want to succeed.


I have artist friends who have mental health struggles. I like to think I am not judgemental, I that I treat people as equals. The Kettle takes a client-centred approach seriously, creating programs that make a difference in their lives, like art, outings, camping and gardening. We do what we can with a tight budget.