It is a privilege to support our youth in times of crisis

I have not worked as a youth worker at Covenant House Vancouver for very long. I work in our male Crisis Program and my main goal is to relationship build with the youth. I also want to strive to help youth in their everyday goals and to celebrate their accomplishments. So far, working at Covenant House has been challenging, amazing, eye-opening, and rewarding.

In my short time here I have managed to build some good relationships with a few of the youth. One youth in particular, called Finn, was new to Covenant House and we made a connection right away. This youth was very out-going, funny, and always had a smile on his face. Since he was new to Covenant House I tried to relationship build whenever I saw him to make him feel more comfortable here. We want our youth to feel comfortable and heard. We really value the importance of communication; after all it is one of our five principles!

One evening while I was working in our Crisis Program, Finn appeared at the door. He did not look like his usual energetic self, he looked very unwell. I immediately invited him to come into the office so I could ask him what was wrong. Finn disclosed to me that his mom said that he could not talk to his sister anymore. This was one of Finn’s most important relationships in his life. He said that talking to his sister daily was what kept him going. Finn seemed to be slurring his words, and he looked pretty out of it. I asked Finn if he had taken anything because he looked unwell. Finn stated that he thought he might have taken some pills. Finn said that this was the only way he could cope with his feelings. Finn barely remembered taking any pills and kept on saying “sorry”. Finn disclosed that he has been very depressed lately, and did not know what else to do.

I asked Finn if he would like to go to the hospital as I was worried that he may have taken too many pills. If there is ever a concern for the safety of the youth or others we refer to hospital or appropriate emergency service. I asked him if he would like me to come with him and he said “yes”. I knew that Finn needed someone to be with him both for sake of his safety and for emotional support. Since I had built a relationship with him, I felt it was appropriate that I went to support him. It was a privilege to go with him and that he trusted me enough to take him.

Finn continued to say “sorry” during the cab ride to the hospital. I explained that we were just happy that he was okay and that he was honest with us. I stayed with Finn at the hospital for over an hour until I knew that he was okay. The hospital wanted to keep him there for testing so I let him know that it was time for me to leave. Finn let me know how thankful he was that I had taken him and stayed with him there. My heart broke a little knowing he was there alone and that his family would not be there with him. I wanted to stay longer to really make sure he was okay, but I knew he had a good team of doctors and nurses looking after him.

This was my first experience helping a youth in crisis at Covenant House. I have to admit I was just as scared as he was. I went home that night with a heavy feeling in my heart. I recognize that I am privileged and have many supports in my personal life. I could not stop thinking about how our youth struggle with many different obstacles, some without any family support. I then started thinking about how amazing and strong they are for taking control of their lives. Some are taking big steps, and some are taking small ones. I feel it is my job to try to make life a little bit easier on them, and to provide them with support in times of need.  Finn ended up returning to our Crisis Program where he continues to grow and build healthy relationships.