by Jasmine Gellineau
Last Friday, members of Toronto’s Social work Sector filled A Different Booklist Cultural Centre to capacity to support and celebrate their colleague, Alana Jones, who launched her debut book, Behind the Frontline. The gathering was a virtual Who’s Who in Social Work within the GTA. Members of this sector packed the ‘People’s Residence’ eager to get their hands on a copy of Jones’ book.
Behind the Frontline is a series of fictitious stories that highlight both the client and the frontline worker’s points of view. Jones is a Director at Fred Victor and takes inspiration from the many years working within the sector as a Frontline worker herself. The book becomes a manual for persons working within the Social Work sector or those thinking of pursuing this career. It gives a human approach to not just the clients but also the worker whose self-care is tantamount to the profession.
In Behind the Frontline, we meet a cache of characters whose voices range from the homeless to the former worker now a client. Jones attempts to put a mirror up to society through the various characters’ stories in the book. No one escapes unscathed. The city and the funders are taken to task through the voices of the culturally diverse characters in the narrative. The author is a profound storyteller, no doubt because of her fascination with the spoken word and oral traditions growing up in Trinidad.
ADBCC became a Social Work Conference Centre as members of the audience eagerly offered up their questions during the question and answer period immediately after Psychotherapist, Nancy Mayers’ conversation with the author. Jones is articulate and passionate about her job. Her immediate responses without delay to each patron’s questions were met with applause and nods of approval from those present. ‘I am hoping readers will sit in silence and reflect on the current status of frontline workers and recognize they too are first responders in the fight against poverty and homelessness. I want readers to become worker centred in the same spirit of being client centred and trauma informed’, the author opined.
The evening ended with a guest appearance of Toronto’s neo soul artist and Honey Jam 2019 alumna, Jäjé, who just happens to be Jones’ daughter. Fusing spoken word and music, Jäjé had patrons enthralled and yearning for more when she ended her performance.
Edited by Toronto’s Theatre Artist and Cultural Impressario, Rhoma Spencer, Behind the Frontline is published by Canadian Publishers, Magoria Books. It is available at A Different Booklist in Toronto and on Amazon online.
Jasmine Gellineau is a Montreal based Social Justice advocate recently relocated to Toronto.