This year, YESS was invited to contribute to a special issue of Parity, Australia’s national homelessness publication. In their October issue, Preventing and Sustaining Exits from Youth Homelessness in Canada, there are articles from agencies across Canada including “Changing the Definition of Success” by our own Camiel Friend, Nexus Shelter Team Lead, and Jessica Day, Director of Program Innovations. We are so proud for this opportunity to share the thought leadership of our Programs team in an international publication.
“Understanding A Way Home Canada’s National Roadmap for the Prevention of Youth Homelessness helped us re-evaluate what was needed in order to help our youth successfully reintegrate into communities: YESS and the partners and community around us must provide safety and stability, help build self-worth, help build the tools for resilience, and help to establish a sense of belonging within the community.”
The article that I wrote with our Director of Program Innovations, Jessica Day, entitled “Changing the Definition of Success” was our way of introducing one of the most imperative aspects of addressing the trauma of our youth: when we measure progress and outcomes with demographics and stats, we are missing the individualized unique stories of each youth we serve. It was important that we acknowledge the various barriers our youth face in a collective manner and to present this information in a relatable and understanding way to the general population, who may not have experienced these adversities themselves.
These stories are just as important as strategic stats or demographics and, thanks to the National Roadmap for the Prevention of Youth Homelessness, help to educate communities on what work and support is needed. As well, we were able to portray how the National Framework can and needs to be applied to local agencies to help increase effective services, broaden the outcomes and stories of the youth served, and help to find a collective language and voice between the national research and our local youth stories. The language used between youth and frontline staff, amongst frontline agencies, from frontline to management and agency management to national coalitions and so on, can be a barrier all on its own. We have the ability to translate this in a way that has a clear guideline and understanding not only to our youth, but also to the people in charge of making important decisions on behalf of our youth.
This reciprocal bridge of communication directly impacts the National Roadmap for the Prevention of Youth Homelessness and its success, as well as directly impacting the local success of our individual agency. This article was a wonderful opportunity to have in-depth conversations about barriers, about language, about community goals, and most importantly how to support our youth while maintaining youth-focused strategies.
– Camiel Friend, Nexus Team Lead
Read Camiel’s article and other articles from Canadian frontline youth workers at homelesshub.ca.