North Vancouver MLAs and members of Vancouver Coastal Health held an official launch for an upcoming youth services centre on the North Shore Thursday, a facility that could potentially help thousands of young people every year, says one MLA.
The new youth services centre, called Foundry North Shore, is billed as an integrated, one-stop shop for youth ages 12 to 24 seeking a whole range of health care services, including mental health support, social services, employment services, and drug and alcohol programs.
The facility will be located in a 9,000-square-foot space at 211 West First St. in North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood, which is where Thursday’s official launch announcement took place.
Foundry North Shore is set to offer a range of services under one roof.
Similar centres in Kelowna, Prince George, Abbotsford and Campbell River are also scheduled to open this spring.
“Each new centre is expected to help between 1,200 and 2,500 youth each year,” said North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Jane Thornthwaite.
“Young people struggling with the early development of mental illness and substance use problems are looking for a safe path, a barrier-free, friendly and open place to find the help and the guidance they need.”
Thornthwaite added that maintaining a wide network of services is an excellent way to support vulnerable youth and their families in the province. “Foundry North Shore will be integrated and will be integral to this network,” she said.
Several social service organizations have signed on to partner with Foundry North Shore when it’s set to open this May, including North Shore Neighbourhood House, Parkgate Community Services Society, Capilano Community Services, the Canadian Mental Health Association and Hollyburn Family Services.
Integrating so many youth-related services in one storefront is a new approach to youth health care in the province and proponents of the model say it will lead to youth services that are easier to navigate and less discouraging.
Dr. Steve Mathias, whose work with the Granville Youth Health Centre in Vancouver played a large role in influencing the multiple health options approach to youth services, said the idea behind Foundry is to make the space safe, youth-friendly and accessible.
“We wanted to make it clear: if you walked into a place like Foundry, no one would have to know why you were there. It was also important then that we mixed not only health services together, but we also brought social services into that space,” Mathias said.
The North Shore was ultimately selected as one of the five successful locations after applying to the Foundry pilot program last spring. Thirty cities across B.C. applied.
Vancouver Coastal Health is planning to contribute $2.5 million annually to the centre’s operation.
Organizers expect Foundry to begin offering services to North Shore youth this spring.