The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs are still offering shelter services to young people who need them. (File)

The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs are still offering shelter services to young people who need them. (File)

Kelowna’s youth shelter still in place despite COVID-19 pandemic

The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs is offering help to those who need it

The COVID-19 pandemic brings about strange and uncertain times.

Days are especially different for teens who aren’t in school or able to see their friends.

However, there is support available for young people who need it.

According to Sarah MacKinnon, the regional director for shelter at the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs, staff have adapted quickly and efficiently to the situation to provide assistance to teens.

“We have enhanced universal precautions, we have regular staff not able to come to work, we’re scheduling with relief staff as much as we can to keep the program open and operating, and we’re running the program to take care of youth in a socially distant way,” she said.

“This is very strange for our staff because they’re very relational and miss being able to sit down to a young person and fill out a form together or sit down next to a person and share an emotional conversation.”

She added that counsellors are now working from home, so services are offered online or by phone. The shelter’s front door is now locked, even for drop-in services, so staff can have a chance to assess an individual before they come in.

MacKinnon said what remains the same is the fact the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs still offer help and shelter to young people who need it even during this time of isolation.

“We run our shelter from a prevention perspective, so we try very hard to help young people avoid the shelter system and avoid homelessness. So that means we continue to work with young people, their families, their peer groups and their support systems to find other places young people can be,” she said.

“We have a 10-bed facility and currently only have three young people staying there. We’re continuing to succeed in working with families and finding safer alternatives for young people.”

MacKinnon said they will continue to work with youth and their support systems to make sure they get the safe shelter they need.

READ: City of Kelowna expecting $1M revenue hit due to tax and fee changes

READ: The future of film production in the Okanagan amid COVID-19

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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