Happy Spring, everyone!
May 4, 2020 marks a significant day in Alberta history as our government starts to open restrictions surrounding public gatherings and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At YESS, we are cautiously optimistic. We have worked very hard with our youth agency partners to ensure young people experiencing homelessness in our city have the basic needs, supports, and safe isolation spaces they need.
Within the span of six weeks, we have created screening and isolation protocols for our staff and youth, expanded our cleaning protocol and hired external cleaners, rearranged schedules and staffing to have our overnight shelter and daytime Armoury Resource Centre offer a safe space 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are working collaboratively with our agency partners to create a coordinated screening and referral process.
We have everyone who can work at home doing so, and we are working directly with our partners at AHS, EPS and Children’s Services to ensure we are following the most recent protocols and recommendations. This will not change until the risk is gone. As of today, we still have no confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 amongst youth and staff.
The reality, however, is that we still need to be very careful. We have a population of young people who are typically run down and immunocompromised and our staff are essential services who must keep themselves and their families healthy. This has not been easy on any one and I believe this quote from one of our Overnight Shelter Supervisor says it all.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a huge amount of anxiety and fear for both the youth and the staff, as we all collectively endure this global trauma. It has fundamentally destabilized the youth’s felt-safety by disrupting their physical, relational, cultural, and legal permanency. – Camiel Friend, Nexus Overnight Shelter Supervisor
Our one job remains: to walk beside youth on their journey towards healing and appropriate community integration. And, interestingly, our message doesn’t change. We can only do this together, all of us. Even in this time of physical distancing we cannot do this in emotional, mental, or spiritual isolation. We are in this together and we will only heal together.
This May we are launching our first all-online campaign. One of the other significant effects of this pandemic is that we have had to pivot our fundraising efforts, along with all of our charity partners. I know this is a very difficult time for many people, and so we ask only that you think of us and help where you can. I have been so impressed with how our community has risen and joined hearts to take care of each other. I hope that this is only the beginning of that effort because when we heal together, we thrive together.