Integrated youth centre marks one year in the community
The barriers between youth and the wellness they want to achieve are being dismantled – one visit at a time. This week marks a full year since Foundry Kelowna opened its doors and in that time more than 1,500 youth have come looking for help.
Foundry Kelowna is a centre that works with youth aged 12 – 24 to get the help they need. “There are 25 partner agencies working together, as seamlessly as we can, to reduce the burden young people can feel when they are looking for help,” explains Foundry Kelowna Manager, Melissa Feddersen. “When a youth walks through our doors it’s a safe and welcoming environment where they only have to tell their story once. That means getting help is less traumatic and less frustrating.” The integrated care model at Foundry Kelowna also means less wait times because the onsite partner agencies can connect youth to counsellors, physicians, income assistance, housing, and employment services.
Feddersen adds it’s not just the youth who are getting help, “We’ve worked with more than 300 families since we opened. When a young person comes in, sometimes we discover that mom or dad is also experiencing the chaos that comes from navigating services for their child – we work with the whole family.” Through the partners, Foundry Kelowna addresses mental health, primary care, substance use, counselling and social services and along with the support groups, educational events and evening sessions the centre is busy seven days a week. “Mental health concerns may be why youth are coming to us but we are seeing them return multiple times to access services.”
Operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kelowna, Foundry Kelowna is the first centre of its kind in the city. “We are now one year in and we have learned so much from youth, families and our partners. By working together, all of us can continue to better at connecting young people to the right help at the right time,” says CMHA Kelowna Executive Director, Shelagh Turner. “This has been an incredible journey and we’ve only just begun.”
Foundry Kelowna is part of a network of seven centres now open in the province, joining two locations in Vancouver (Granville and the North Shore), Abbotsford, Victoria, Prince George and Campbell River. An additional four centres are slated to open soon. (www.foundrybc.ca/kelowna)