One cold morning, a young teenage girl named Emma came to Covenant House Vancouver seeking shelter. All she had with her was a small backpack, containing a few books and change of clothes. Her cheeks were rosy red, and she was stiff from the cold. As well, she was suffering from a severe respiratory infection. With temperatures declining, I was concerned for her immediate health.
Despite Emma’s lung infection she was in such good spirits. It was difficult to tell if her cheeks were rosy from the cold or smiling too much. Her ear to ear smiles barely left her face, even as she spoke about her life, in great detail. She had never been to Vancouver and expressed how excited she was to have finally made her way to the big city. She told me about how she was going to become a singer, get a job to support herself and start attending school for the gifted.
After I sat and listened to Emma for some time, we discovered that Emma has bipolar disorder. It was apparent the young girl was experiencing a manic episode. She had barely any clothes, no money, no ID and no contact information for her family. With the rest of my team, we created a safety plan for Emma, so we could get her mental health and medical support as soon as possible.
In the meantime, we were able to give her a safe place to be, a warm bed to sleep in, hot food and a shower. We kept her with us until her social workers could bring her to the children’s hospital and back to her family. While, she didn’t stay with us long, we were the first point of intervention for her and ultimately her way back to safety.
I can only imagine the worry her family must have felt discovering their daughter missing in the morning. I went home feeling assured the young girl had gotten the medical help she needed and even more assured that she wasn’t left vulnerable and lost in an unknown city at night. With the help of other community partners, we all made sure that Emma was connected back to her concerned family and was getting the care she needed.
– Shared by Stacie, Youth Worker at our Crisis Program
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