The transition from youth to adulthood can often be a difficult one. The Hub, a drop-in centre for youth aged 16 – 24, has been set up to assist in the process.
“We want to prepare them for adulthood and help them to make positive changes in their lives. They really have to work for it and they have to want it. The ultimate goal is to transition them successfully into adulthood and independence,” says Jaylene Poirier, The Hub co-ordinator.
The Hub operates out of St. Luke’s United Church on the corner of Wellington Street and Indian Road. Inside is an open concept space featuring couches, a large screen television and gaming area. There are computers, a food bank (provided by the Inn of the Good Shepherd), hygiene supplies, informational brochures, a room for the nurse practitioner and a kitchen area with a large wooden table. There’s even a shower and laundry facilities.
Youth using the program must first meet with an intake worker. After that, they can come and go as they please. Some come every day, some come sporadically, says Poirier. There are currently about 150 youth who have gone through the intake process.
The genesis for The Hub came from 21 local agencies meeting to discuss how to support youth transitioning out of care with the Children’s Aid Society (CAS). It started out in 2014 as a project for 16-17 year olds and grew from that. The research project determined that the age group should be expanded to 24. There are currently at least 31 community agencies involved in The Hub.
“The recommendations from that report were: to develop an inclusive space for youth with input from a youth committee, to ensure the presence of authentic workers and to consolidate community resources for wraparound youth care,” says Carrie McEachran, Rebound executive director.
The Hub opened its doors in February this year as a one-year pilot project. To date, the project has received an Ontario Trillium Fund grant, a United Way Venture Grant and donations from individuals, organizations and companies. But what happens after February 2018 is still up in the air.
“We are advocating strongly for sustainable funding. We are on the ministry’s radar,” says McEachran.
The youth themselves are also helping raising funds. They recently held a car wash and bake sale, which raised $200.
“Overall our space is really positive. The youth have really taken it on as their own. It really is their space and we’re there to support them,” says Poirier.
The Hub is open Monday to Friday 3 – 8 p.m. and Saturdays 1-9 p.m. A typical day at The Hub starts with cooking supper, playing games and talking. Programming begins at 6-7 and involves a variety of things including how to quit smoking, help with finding a job, arts and crafts, movie night, baking, spa day and even haircuts. The youth receive a calendar of the month’s activities and can alter their schedule around that. The calendar is also posted on The Hub’s Facebook page. In addition to the programming, The Hub staff can help the youth access services they may need including assistance with mental health, addiction, education and job readiness as well as social programs and referrals.
Of course, like any organization, The Hub has rules. A youth advisory committee meets once a month. They created the rules and discuss the consequences of disobeying. Poirier says a recent issue at The Hub has been stopping the gossip and teaching youth to be respectful of the space and the people in it.
The Hub is staffed by two full-time and one part time worker, as well as three call-in workers. There are two paid youth advisors and a CAS worker who comes in three days a week for three hours at a time. Volunteers can help provide the programming and donate money and supplies, but cannot staff the facility due to confidentiality issues.
Poirier is currently trying to locate a portable dental hygienist who will do cleanings for youth over age 18. She is also hoping to locate a storage unit for larger furniture items for youth looking to get into housing.
The Hub is also in need of hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrushes, tampons, pads, full size bottles of shampoo and conditioner, body wash and deodorant as well as new underwear and socks.
“We have had donations of travel size hygiene items, but the youth really prefer the full size bottles. I think it helps normalize it,” says Poirier.
Grocery gift cards with a small denomination are also helpful for youth transitioning into their own place.
“One of our goals is to teach the youth basic life skills like cooking and cleaning. We want to help them be successful in their everyday life,” says Poirier.
For more information about The Hub or to help out, email Poirier or call 519-491-5579.