On November 28, Threshold Housing Society will again participate in Giving Tuesday Canada – this time with an amazing matching donation of up to $10,000!
Giving Tuesday is an important opportunity both for Threshold to show our gratitude for all the support we receive, and to deepen our relationships with community as we head into the full blast of the holiday season.
While there is so much to be thankful for, there is also much work to do. We are seeing not only more youth experiencing housing instability and homelessness, but youth with more compounding issues such as mental illness, substance use disorder, and deeply fractured support networks.
While we have been sharing our gratitude in the leadup to Giving Tuesday we’d also like to again show our thanks to those who choose to “Shine Brighter” on November 28.
The first 25 supporters who qualify by Shining Brighter will receive our thanks in the shape of our beautiful ‘Shine a Light on Youth’ tea tin. These limited edition versions of our annual tea boxes are a year-round reminder of your generosity to us – and they make a great gift!
We are delighted to launch Shine a Light on Youth Homelessness for its sixth year. Our popular Silk Road “12 Days of Tea” tea boxes are available once again for the price of just $20, and we are so grateful for Silk Road’s ongoing support. Daniela Cubelic, the owner and Tea Master of Silk Road says, “When we work together, it can add up to something meaningful. Knowing that, we’re proud to continue our part in Shine a Light.”
This year, Threshold has broadened the campaign, adding Cowichan Valley-based Crowfoot Collective to their list of partners. Providing a deeply local and elegent 3” beeswax pillar candle to the campaign – the beeswax comes from island bees pollinating island flowers – co-owners Claire and Lawrence Crowfoot said, “youth homelessness is a cause close to our hearts. We believe in the importance of what Threshold is doing, and we are excited to be part of Shine a Light.”
The over-representation of Indigenous youth amongst youth experiencing homelessness, they comprised 40% of Threshold applicants last year, means that partnering with Indigenous businesses is important to Threshold. Executive Director Colin Tessier stated that “Shine a Light is our biggest campaign of the year, and it needs to reflect our position in the community and our commitment to supporting Indigenous youth, communities, organizations, and businesses.”
In addition to local supplier partners, Threshold has focused on local retail partners for Shine a Light. We are excited and grateful for the growing partnerships with local businesses to raise funds for at-risk youth.
Check the growing list of partners below.
The 3rd Annual Do the Loop is back. The campaign runs from August 1 to September 23, 2023, with participants getting out to ride, run, walk, roll, and move – for youth.
This year, funds raised by Do the Loop participants will support the Family and Natural Support program, Threshold’s innovative prevention program for youth at risk of homelessness.
We are grateful once again for the generous support of the JAYMAC II fund through the Victoria Foundation for their matching gift of $20,000. That’s right – the first $20,000 raised will be matched dollar for dollar.
An under-examined aspect of safety for youth is being safe to be themselves in emotional and mental ways, and that includes having people in their lives who use the language that resonates with who they are – be that gender designations, names, or labels.
Despite what parents, teachers, and kids in the schoolyard have said for generations, sticks and stones may break my bones, but hateful words can leave deeper wounds that are slower to heal. And yet, many people resist something that costs them nothing: using respectful language.
In Victoria, the Greater Victoria School District has created a library of helpful resources for those who want to understand the terminology of sexual orientations, gender identity, and gender expression.
Although significant changes have been made to support youth aging out of government care, there are still major gaps in funding and support to ensure positive long term outcomes. In reviewing recent updates to the recommendations from the BC Representative for Children and Youth, we can see where improvements have been made, and where there is still significant work to be done.
Financial supports for youth aging out of care are still contingent on specific requirements, and they fall short of meeting the financial pressures caused by increased housing and food costs. However, for those able to work, a full earning exemption allows for greater flexibility in financial security.
Education & Professional Development
Recent increases to educational funding, and a reduction in the restrictions for that funding, offer more flexibility for youth leaving care to expand their life skills. However, funding for program costs alone does not take into account the need for additional support while pursuing education & training.
While some work has been done on investigating and understanding youth housing needs, the majority of funding for housing creation is still inaccessible for organizations supporting youth.
The extension of voluntary residential care allows youth from care to maintain relationships with their support networks as they transition out of care. Youth transition workers are now able to work with youth aging out of care up to age 25, helping to maintain relationships as youth transition out of care.
Culture, Spirituality, and Wellbeing
Recommendation #6 from the BC Representative for Children and Youth outlines some of the progress that is being made in this area. However, this progress is slow and falls short of meeting the needs of youth transitioning out of care. Additional funding for extended medical and mental health supports has been mentioned by the government, but concrete details, including an implementation date, have not been announced.
Advocacy & Rights
The implementation of longitudinal data collection to monitor the effectiveness of programs has still not been done. Without the ability to see how programs are working, it is difficult – if not impossible – to get an accurate understanding of the needs of youth transitioning out of care.
Emerging Adult Development
Increases in the number of transition workers, and an extension on the continuity of service with those workers up to age 25, help youth to transition at a pace that they are comfortable with. Additional work to extend the age to 27 (as recommended by the BC Representative for Children and Youth) and increased long term follow up would enhance emerging adult development for youth.
We applaud the work done by the Ministry of Child and Family Development in increasing the funding and support offered to youth as they transition out of care. And, as long as there are still major gaps in the services youth need in order to achieve positive long term outcomes will continue to do our work to fill those gaps with programs that support recovery, housing stability, and life skills training in order to set youth up for long term success as they transition into adulthood.
Check this PDF document for links to all references used in this blog series.
While Threshold’s key focus will always be on providing safe homes, community, and support for youth, we recognize that without system change we are merely a small bucket trying to capture a waterfall. For that reason, within our areas of influence and expertise Threshold also advocates for policy and systems change at multiple levels.
Within Greater Victoria, staff from Threshold sit on no fewer than 20 committees, working groups, task forces, and communities of practice. Executive Director Colin Tessier is an active member of the national learning community on youth homelessness hosted by A Way Home Canada, and through that connection is able to advocate at both the provincial and national levels. The leadership team also connects with other organizations by sharing our learning at regional, provincial, and federal conferences.
Threshold Housing Society is an advocate for youth in Victoria. We work to improve policies for youth leaving government care through engagement with multiple levels of government and education for the greater community. Threshold’s annual campaigns for youth aging out of care, 2SLGBTQIA+ youth, and events focused on harm reduction for youth help the broader community. These activities often include media content, community events, and participation at conferences.
Threshold’s four areas of advocacy are:
Funding for youth housing
Many of the federal & provincial governments’ funding announcements don’t consider the specific needs of housing for youth.
Without funding that is specifically targetted for the supported and supportive housing that youth need to develop their whole selves, the crisis of youth homelessness will not end.
Aging Out of Care
As this campaign shows, despite announcements from the BC Ministry for Child and Family Development, far too many former youth in care continue to have difficult transitions to adulthood.
We will continue to represent these youth and to fight for the support they deserve.
Harm Reduction for Youth
Parents, teachers, and social service staff – not to mention the community at large, must face the reality of underage substance use.
Harm reduction keeps youth alive while they learn the skills to sustain the level of sobriety that provides what they want for their lives, and we will continue to talk and teach about it.
Youth Homelessness Prevention
Without real action to prevent youth homelessness, all plans to end homelessness are doomed to failure.
We will continue to research & implement practices and programs that prevent youth homelessness and will share our learnings with other youth service providers.
Youth with a history of trauma are at higher risk for negative outcomes later in life and delays in developing basic life skills. Youth who also have disabilities, both visible and invisible, face additional challenges with their emerging adult development. These lived experiences can lead to a reduced “window of tolerance” for stress which impacts different aspect of their lives including healthy relationships, employment, housing stability, and substance use.
Safe at Home with Pride, running from June 1 – July 15, is one of the most significant campaigns in the Threshold year. With youth on the sexual orientation and gender identity spectrums massively over-represented in youth homelessness, Pride season is a prime opportunity for Threshold to show the community and our youth that we create safe spaces, that they belong, and that we celebrate them.
“Every young person should have people in their life that they can count on unconditionally and interdependently. Youth in care need to feel that they belong, have worth and are valuable members of their communities” EQUITABLE STANDARDS FOR TRANSITIONS TO ADULTHOOD FOR YOUTH IN CARE – Pillar 4
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