Crisis Program at Covenant House Vancouver

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The #CHVCatchUp is a monthly series featuring the latest updates and news from Covenant House Vancouver. Miss604 is proud to be the Official Blog Partner of CHV to share and tell their stories, like this month’s feature about the Crisis Program:

Crisis Program at Covenant House Vancouver

At Covenant House Vancouver’s Crisis Program, youth receive compassion and support from our caring team of Youth Workers, Social Workers, and Registered Clinical Counsellors.

When youth first arrive at Covenant House they are often scared, sick, hungry, and exhausted. At the Crisis Program the priority is to meet young people’s basic needs by providing:

  • A safe place to sleep
  • Nutritious food
  • Hygiene supplies and a shower
  • Clean clothing and pajamas
  • Medical attention 
Covenant House Vancouver

Relentless Support for Youth

There are 63 beds in CHV’s short-term, live-in Crisis Program:

  • 28 beds for female-identified youth (including LGBTQ2S, gender queer, gender non-binary and self-identified young women)
  • 35 beds for male-identified youth (including LGBTQ2S, gender queer, gender non-binary and self-identified young men)
Covenant House Vancouver

At the Crisis Program, youth also receive:

  • Food, clothing, and hygiene supplies
  • A consistent Youth Worker for support, goal setting, and planning
  • Access to Registered Clinical Counsellors
  • Access to Social Workers who help create an individual plan
  • Referrals to other social services
  • Help with finding employment and referrals to job centres
  • Financial assistance to get back home, if that’s a safe option
  • Recreational opportunities including yoga, soccer, hockey, and baseball
  • Help finding and securing a safe place to live when they decide to leave

Young people can stay in the Crisis Program free of charge for as long as they need to; because getting through a crisis takes as long as it takes.

Covenant House Vancouver

Crisis Program in Action

Rhiannon, a Youth Worker at CHV’s Crisis Program shares how a young woman named Tammara approached a unique challenge with hope and optimism:The pandemic has been a significant challenge for so many of us, but for drug users and those who are doing their best to stay sober it has been particularly difficult.

*Tammara stayed at the Crisis Program early in the pandemic, and due to COVID-19 concerns, we were required to keep her isolated in her room for 14 days. She had a significant history of drug use and because of this, would generally struggle to stay with us for any longer than a week at a time. I have been working with her for about 2 years now – through the turbulence of her addiction and struggle for sobriety – so I knew how incredibly tough it was going to be for her to be in her room for 2 weeks straight.

Tammara came to us from detox, and we greeted each other like old friends. I had to break the news to her that this stay would be a little different, as she would have to stay in her room to protect others from potential exposure. I explained to her that we had a Youth Worker cellphone that she could call anytime so she was always able to talk to staff on shift, that we could lend her a laptop with a Netflix and Disney Plus account, plus all sorts of activities to do like colouring, crosswords, yoga stretches, knitting, etc.

She was apprehensive but approached it with the attitude I’d seen so many times from her – optimistic and hopeful. Sobriety has always been her number one goal in life, and she knew that being in isolation would ensure she would achieve this for the short term. Every day on my shift we’d talk on the phone or text.

There were, of course, some days when she was feeling really low and finding it tough to do even the simplest of tasks like showering or getting dressed. Other days we would talk for quite some time and she was upbeat and positive. The 2 weeks felt like an eternity, especially for an extrovert like Tammara who craved the company of others.

Thankfully, she was able to attend her counselling appointments virtually during this time, and every day she got a little closer to freedom and a little further from her dependence on drugs. When the 2 weeks were up, her other consistent Youth Workers and I made her a card to let her know that we recognized how much strength it took for her to finish the quarantine period.

Covenant House Vancouver

On the day she came out of her room, we gave her the card and she read it with tears in her eyes. She looked at me and told me that she’d been trying so hard but had never gone that long without using drugs to cope with her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and mental health.

She used the time in her room to give her body and her mind a break. Sure, she watched a LOT of movies, but she also did some real healing knowing that she was in a safe place with support all around her. Isolation would never have been her first choice to support her sobriety, but it turned out to be an incredibly valuable and beneficial part of her sober journey.

*Name changed for confidentiality

Since 1997, Covenant House Vancouver has been providing love and hope to youth experiencing homelessness. They are the premiere service provider of residential and outreach services for homeless and at-risk youth ages 16 to 24 in Vancouver. 

Follow Covenant House Vancouver on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more info.

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