Your Support Is Building Brighter Futures

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The is monthly series features the latest updates and news from Covenant House Vancouver. Miss604 is proud to be their Official Blog Partner. This month’s post has been written by Jason Bosher of Covenant House Vancouver.

An Update from Covenant House Vancouver

From donors to trades people, community support has led to empowering changes at Covenant House Vancouver.

Covenant House Vancouver Building Brighter Futures Quote
“The challenges that youth encounter are complex, and our job is to ensure that they don’t face further obstacles when they reach out for support.” – Stephanie Gillingham, Director, Clinical Services & Complex Care

Drop-In Centre

Covenant House Vancouver’s Drop-In Centre is a low-barrier service. What does low barrier mean? Low barrier essentially means removing any obstacle that’s stopping a youth from accessing Covenant House’s services. To come into the Drop-In Centre, the requirements are minimal — youth just need to be within their age range of 16 –24. Youth don’t need to have a job, be in school, or have an income.

Over the last year, the number of youth who access this service has nearly doubled. In an effort to meet this challenge, the Drop-In Centre is now open seven days a week.

The Drop-In Centre provides youth with showers, clothing, laundry, and healthy meals. It also provides access to computers, video games, TV, and the Drop-In Centre is a place where youth can sleep. Youth use this space during the day to stay safe. It’s a space where they can just come and recharge.

Why is the Drop-In Centre such a critical service? Many youth do not have a safe place to stay, which puts them at risk of being targeted for exploitation. Youth experiencing homelessness are quite often isolated, which means they have limited support networks. 

There is a stigma around homelessness which makes it even harder for youth to reach out for the services they need, and that gets in the way of offering youth the best support. Ultimately, it puts people’s lives at risk. 

Many youth also struggle with their mental health, and are impacted by the toxic drug supply. For youth who are struggling financially, the Drop-In Centre is a place where they can do their laundry and connect with peers, so that they aren’t as isolated. It is a place where youth can be connected to mental health and other resources.

Covenant House Guest Post September is Suicide Awareness Month
Photo submitted

Located within the Drop-In Centre is a grocery pantry called Covey’s Cupboard. Largely supported by the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Covey’s Cupboard is a place where once a week, youth can access fresh, frozen, dried, and canned food to support their physical health.

The Drop-In Centre is also a point of contact where, during extreme weather conditions, youth can access Emergency Weather Beds. This service can be life saving during the harsh winter months.

Rights of Passage Program

The Rights of Passage program at Covenant House Vancouver is a transitional housing program, where youth experience what it’s like to be independent, while being fully supported. In addition to guidance, structure, and support, the Rights of Passage program provides:

  • A fully furnished, private suite, up to a youth’s 25th birthday
  • 24-hour staff support
  • Daily and community dinners, light groceries, and celebrations
  • Individualized Case Management
  • Life skills (cooking, money management, self-care, communication skills and goal setting)
  • Support in maintaining employment and/or developing an education plan
  • Recreational opportunities

Over the last two years, the Covenant House building on Pender Street (home to the Rights of Passage program) has been undergoing renovations.

The renovations nearly complete. The exciting news about the renovations is that the Rights of Passage program will be expanding from 25 beds to 44 beds!

Covenant House Gym
Covenant House Gym – Photo submitted

Human Trafficking Prevention Network

As you may, or may not, know, Covenant House Vancouver developed an anti-human trafficking toolkit to support Covenant House staff and partner organizations in serving youth at risk of, currently experiencing, or those who have survived human trafficking and/or exploitation.   

This project and the development of the toolkit included a literature review and consultation with survivors, anti-human trafficking organizations, and organizations that serve youth across North America, and was funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada.   

But no one organization can combat human trafficking successfully on their own.

On February 22nd, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a diverse group of community and business leaders, gathered in Covenant House Vancouver’s gymnasium to learn more about the dimensions and the magnitude of human trafficking in Canada and to explore opportunities to work together to address it.

Twenty founding members committed to raise awareness of, and take action to help prevent, human trafficking by creating the Human Trafficking Prevention Network. There is an overlap between the risk factors for youth homelessness and youth at risk of trafficking and exploitation; and the goal of the Human Trafficking Prevention Network is for organizations to integrate their efforts so that there can be a much more profound impact on keeping the most vulnerable in our community safe.

If you would like to keep up to date with news from Covenant House Vancouver, you can read their blog, and follow them on social media: Twitter @CovenantHouseBC, on Instagram @covenanthousebc, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, and on TikTok.

Related: Read all of the Covenant House guest posts on Miss604 over the past year and beyond.

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