We support youth age 16 to 24 who are homeless, at risk, or exploited, by meeting them where they are at. We offer them programs and services that range from a hot meal and a shower to health care, mental health services and substance-use counselling. Individualized goal setting and action plans, help with family reunification, education, employment, and housing, for days, weeks, months, or even years.
The young people we work with usually come to us with nothing, and sometimes as a last resort. We offer them absolute respect, unconditional love, and relentless support, and we provide care and services that give youth a feeling of comfort and safety.
Covenant House Vancouver’s (CHV) Outreach team helps young individuals, age 16 to 24, who are currently residing on Vancouver’s streets, facing the risk of homelessness, or living in unstable housing conditions. This dedicated team navigates the downtown area on foot, actively reaching out to youth both on the streets and those residing in single room occupancy (SRO) hotels, temporary housing, or hospitals. These youth often find themselves trapped in the complexities of homelessness, relying on social or community services that inadequately address their multifaceted needs.
For the Outreach team, meeting immediate needs happens quickly and, on the surface, can look very simple. Outreach workers may chat with a youth for a few minutes, offer them something to eat, offer them harm reduction supplies, and possibly invite them to our Drop-In Centre. While these interactions are somewhat brief, they communicate to youth that CHV staff are respectful and safe to work with, and these interactions lay the foundation for a deeper and more trusting relationship.
Regular contact allows Outreach workers to form strong connections with youth. Outreach workers may accompany youth to drop-in clinics, hospitals, or help them get government-issued identification.
Outreach workers may also introduce youth to our housing programs when appropriate. Most importantly, this connection gives youth the opportunity to engage more deeply with CHV. The Outreach workers’ initial focus; however, is to show these young people dignity and respect, and to remind them of their worth.
At CHV’s Drop-In Centre, youth workers provide an array of as-needed services to young people, age 16 to 24. At the Drop-In Centre, youth develop relationships with youth workers. Here, they also gain access to a wide range of support services, from our medical clinic to in-house trauma counselling, along with support from social workers, referrals to partner organizations, cultural supports and help from a housing support worker. The Drop-In Centre also provides food, clothing, showers, and laundry services.
The Drop-In Centre provides critical services to youth who have little or no support available to them. To keep the Drop-In Centre accessible and remove barriers for youth who need our services the most, young people are not required to show identification or complete an intake process when they first visit. Instead, we focus on building trust and, eventually, a safe and caring relationship.
Food is a way of connecting with youth when they first visit, and our kitchen staff make high-quality, nourishing meals for young people to remind them of their worth. All of our meal plans are nutritionist approved, and we can accommodate various dietary requirements and preferences.
he Drop-In Centre also houses our clothing room, where youth are free to pick out freshly laundered items donated from the community. This is often an exciting experience for young people. For some of them, it will be the first time that they are able to exercise personal agency and pick out clothing items that showcase their individual style.
Many youth return to the Drop-In Centre multiple times, and each time they visit, their relationships with staff, and trust in our services, grows. Eventually, many of these youth access additional supports by working with a dedicated social worker, a Registered Clinical Counsellor, or by choosing to enter our supported housing programs. Meeting basic needs in an inclusive, judgement-free space is the bridge to long term change: it demonstrates to young people that they can live with dignity and choice, and that CHV is there to support them on their journeys.
Every year, over 50,000 people from BC and beyond step up to support CHV. Their donations, of all sizes, enable us to reach youth whose futures are in peril. When a single youth changes their path, with support from CHV, our community, our city, and our province benefits. Most importantly, young lives are saved, often literally.
We know that our programs are effective. Not only do we see positive changes in the youth we work with, but our surveys also show that youth believe that they are benefiting. When surveyed, 93% of youth who have used CHV services say it helped them; and 80% feel more confident about the future.
We serve youth around the clock, 365 days a year. Thanks to donor support, youth have the opportunity to discover their passions, access education, find a job, and pursue happiness. At CHV, youth experience love, trust, being heard, and feeling valued. Some of them experience this for the first time. They all discover that there is hope for the future and a life beyond the streets.
Still, too many young people remain on Vancouver’s streets; 500–1,000 youth face homelessness every day. We want to change that and must continue to expand our programming to better serve youth segments, including Indigenous youth and 2SLGBTQAI+ youth. With your help, we can do more.
The potential of your donation is immense.
Thank you for considering Covenant House Vancouver