REACH OUT TO STREET YOUTH!! REJOIGNEZ LES JEUNES DE LA RUE!!!
Cynthia, Street Work Campaign Coordinator
Head & Hands
November 11, 2012
EN FRANÇAIS: http://headandhands.ca/fr/programmes-services/travail-de-rue/THE ISSUE: YOUTH ARE FALLING THROUGH THE CRACKS OF NDG!!
At first glance, Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce can seem like a pretty comfortable neighbourhood, but 25% of our population are living below the poverty line, and many of our youth are struggling to meet their basic needs.
For youth who are really struggling to survive, the basic social safety net just doesn’t work. Many youth don’t feel comfortable going into unfamiliar clinics and welfare offices because they’re afraid of being judged, stigmatized or policed. Sometimes, it’s a question of not knowing where to go for help, or not being able to afford even a bus ticket to get there. Also, with 39% of NDG’s residents being migrants, many youth’s struggles are made more difficult by racism in our institutions: being stopped by the police for “looking like some criminal” or being refused treatment by a doctor for not having the proper papers. When these youth don’t access the support they need, their situation can quickly spiral downwards.
OUR IDEA: BRINGING STREET WORKERS TO OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD!!
Street Workers are outreach workers who go out into the community to connect with youth, listen to them and support them in identifying their own needs and taking steps towards filling them. They literally meet youth where they’re at – in the streets, parks, metros (subway stations), bars, hotels, and group homes of a neighborhood – and often until 2AM. By being flexible and mobile, they are able to reach youth who otherwise wouldn’t walk through any doors to get support.
Street Work is grounded in the belief that youth are best suited to make decisions about their own lives. Through the trusting relationships that they build with youth, Street Workers can help them meet basic needs like finding emergency food and shelter, accompanying someone to an abortion, supporting someone who is thinking about suicide, and more. Street Workers can also help youth find long-term solutions like getting counselling, finding an apartment, getting back into school, and finding support with addiction – always at their own pace and on their own terms.
Street Workers are also very important for promoting public health! When life is really harsh, some youth turn to drugs and alcohol to cope, and young heroin and crack users who lack information and clean materials are at high risk for HIV and Hepatitis C. Street Workers provide those clean materials, along with information and resources to help youth make healthier choices when they’re ready.
THE NEED: NO ONE IS DOING THIS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD!!
We have a lot of community and public services in NDG, but service providers are limited in terms of what they can offer and where they can go to reach youth. Street Workers could bring holistic and voluntary services to at-risk youth in our neighborhood, while working towards Hepatitis C and HIV prevention by distributing clean needles, crack inhalation kits and condoms, and giving information on safer drug use and safer sex.
WHO CAN BRING IT? HEAD & HANDS!!! Since 1970, Head & Hands has been committed to the physical and mental health of our community’s youth. Our Street Workers could easily connect youth to our broad range of free programs (medical clinic, legal services, social counseling, and more) to help them meet their needs. We are a trusted member of this community, and our partners are excited to work with Street Workers to support NDG’s most marginalized youth!!
VOTE FOR US and help us get Street Workers in NDG as soon as possible to fill urgent needs!! Head & Hands is committed to bringing Street Work services to NDG for good. The Aviva Community Fund will help us secure funding to hire 2 Street Workers for 1 year, while we focus on building sustainable relationships with multiple funders to keep them around for years to come.