West Kelowna forum to shed light on homeless youth situation

A forum will be held next Tuesday to come up with potential solutions to help homeless youth on the Westside.

For several years, volunteers from Westbank United Church and St. George’s Anglican Church have been serving meals to the youth at the West Kelowna Boys and Girls Club.

Last fall the volunteers learned a handful of those they were serving didn’t have any place to call home.

“It was brought to our attention that there were two youth who were living in a tent all throughout the winter months,” said Audrey Frisken.

“A group of us decided that the community at large likely doesn’t know that such a thing is going on…we decided to have a public information forum.”

Frisken, a member of the forum’s planning committee, said there are several other kids who are homeless as well; however, they opt to “couch-surf” rather than stay outdoors in tents.

“Some of them are in middle school, most of them are in senior high. Some are anywhere up to age 24—most services only last until age 18,” said Frisken.

The forum—No Place to Call Home—takes place Tuesday, May 7 at the Westbank Lions Community Centre.

Representatives from the Boys and Girls Club, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the RCMP, Kelowna Gospel Mission and several other organizations will be on hand at the forum. All West Kelowna residents are invited to attend.

Frisken hopes the session will motivate the community to get involved with the issue.

She added ultimately the goal is to get an emergency shelter on the Westside and, eventually, longer term services for youth to take advantage of.