Watari’s Eastside Integrated Youth Outreach Team responds to, and provides street youths’ immediate needs for food, clothing, shelter, and medical care right within the core of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Eastside Integrated Youth Outreach
Working with a vulnerable and often “pushed aside” population, the Eastside Integrated Youth Team includes two full-time outreach workers: Krystal and Kolfinna, as well as a part-time outreach worker, Jodi. This program is funded through Vancouver Coastal Health, the City of Vancouver, and BC Housing. Attached to BC Housing funding, the youth team is able to offer a one-year housing subsidy for youth at risk of homeless, which has allowed numerous individuals they support to obtain and maintain market housing.
Outreach workers connect and engage with youth, up to the age of 25, meeting them where they are at. Early intervention is the key to building relationships with these vulnerable youths and assessing their needs, providing support through lay-counselling, reconnecting young people with family, encouraging them to work through the issues that brought them to the street is a focus of the work. Safety is a consideration that workers keep in mind when matching young people with other supports and services. The outreach team also provide individuals on the street with items needed to support their basic needs, which range anywhere from distributing food, water, clean clothes, or clean, unused harm reduction materials.
Watari’s Eastside Integrated Youth Team manages to maintain connections with services in the community that interact with youth but aren’t sure how to assist them in negotiating the systems that are specific to youth. Working collaboratively with Ministry of Children and Family Development, Vancouver Police Department, First United, Vancouver Native Health Society, Directions Youth Services Centre, Urban Native Youth Association, Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society, Youth Unlimited, Covenant House, as well as countless other service providers, the team attempts to interact quickly and respectfully with young people to create pathways to employment, housing, education, or home.
Aside from street outreach, the outreach team facilitates a youth drop-in at Vancouver Native Health Clinic which runs every Wednesday. This drop-in is run in conjunction with the clinic, UBC medical students, as well as other outreach providers to provide youth with a hot meal, groceries to go, support, and easy to access medical care. The team also runs a youth driven community kitchen (Youth Ultimate Community Kitchen, affectionately known as Y.U.C.K.) in conjunction with Directions Youth Services Centre outreach staff on Fridays with a focus on building life skills, food sustainability, and connection to community.
Recently, with support from the Home Depot’s Orange Door Award, the outreach team has been able to offer Indigenous cultural programming for youth. We began with making traditional hand drums and will later encompass rattles, looming, mocassins, beading projects, growing and harvesting traditional medicines, and later facilitating further drum workshops and drum groups.
How Can We Help You, Or Someone You Know?
For more information please call:
Krystal Jules: 778-926-4404
Kolfinna Gardarsdottir: 236-886-7372
Jodi Harry: 236-818-8378
Check out our Youth Outreach Facebook Page and feel free to message us!