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One-stop youth services facility officially opens

More than 15 community partners ready to lend support

A one-stop shop for youth services could be the solution for young people normally put off by the often demoralizing effort required to shuffle from building to building in order to seek help.

That was the message behind the official opening of Foundry North Shore on Friday, a Vancouver Coastal Health-operated facility comprised of more than 15 existing social programs and services that will operate under one roof.

“We want to empower young people to lead healthy lives by providing easy access to the tools, resources and skills that they need to achieve wellness,” said Pamela Liversidge, Foundry’s director of policy and partnerships, at a media event hosted at the facility. “We will help to bridge gaps and remove barriers in systems by providing and bringing together several service providers under one roof so that young people and families can access the care that they need when they need it.”

The 9,000-square-foot facility, located at 211 West First St. in Lower Lonsdale, had a soft opening in July and has now officially opened its doors.

The Foundry opening means the North Shore joins a select number of municipalities across B.C. that get to offer the program after first applying to host a centre last year.

Foundry centres have also had soft openings in Campbell River, Kelowna and Prince George, and a facility in Abbotsford is expected to open next year.

Some of the community partners that have signed on to provide a whole host of youth services and supports include the Canadian Mental Health Association, Family Services of the North Shore, Hollyburn Family Services, North Shore Neighbourhood House, and several others.

Judy Darcy, minister of mental health and addiction, a provincial position that was created this year after the B.C. NDP came to power, spoke of Foundry’s opening on the North Shore as a “beacon of hope.”

“The four centres that are already opened now are making a tremendous difference in the lives of many youth and we need more of them,” Darcy said. “Young people who are struggling with mental health or addiction are looking for a safe place, a barrier-free place, a judgment-free place, and an accepting place to find the support that they need and the new Foundry North Shore will help them get back to a path of wellness.”

Vancouver Coastal Health will be providing $2.5 million in annual funding to help operate Foundry North Shore.

The facilities are expected to serve between 1,200 and 2,500 young people per year, depending on the size of the community.

Yvana Avram, a 19-year-old peer support worker at Foundry North Shore, spoke about how when she was younger she was unsure what to do regarding her feelings of depression. Now that Foundry North Shore has officially opened, she said she was confident youth who are in crisis or unsure what to do would have an accessible site for their concerns to be heard.

“I think it’s wonderful that we have this storefront-approach and we have a drop-in approach,” she said. “I know for me as a peer support worker, now being able to help and support those youth who are walking through those doors, who maybe don’t know what they need, it’s incredible.”

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