Young people who are tossed aside by their families, who run away because of abuse, or who end up on the street because of addiction or mental health issues have an incredibly hard time trusting that there are people who just want to help.
Covenant House's Street Outreach team helps kids aged 16 to 24 who are living, or at risk of living, on Vancouver's streets.
Thanks to volunteers and donors, our Street Outreach team is able to be out helping youth on the street five days a week.
Finding kids in crisis, the team builds trusting relationships with street youth by meeting them where they are and by being a consistent, supportive presence in their lives. Travelling on foot, we offer food, counselling, minor medical attention and friendship, and we invite them to come to our Drop-In program for a hot meal or help getting back on their feet. Street life is brutally dangerous for vulnerable youth, and when we find kids in crisis, our team is trained to connect them with psychiatrists, medical professionals and social workers, or to bring them to our Crisis Program for safety and support.
Because we are able to be out so often, we can spot the new faces. We proactively reach out to newcomers. Some arrive homeless, while some live in substandard housing (such as crashing in single-room occupancy hotels or couch surfing)—but all hang out on the streets and are at risk.
We work closely with other service providers to keep track of new youth and underage youth (19 and younger), who are especially vulnerable and could access government assistance with someone's help.
It's a tragedy that many young people run away from home, thinking “it can’t get any worse.” All too soon they learn it can. The Street Outreach team makes sure kids know they aren't alone and that there are trustworthy people who want to help.
"Covenant House is a helping hand for all the kids who need it. They really go out of their way to help. They're real people, not phonies." - Sara, 18