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Youth Homelessness Forum planned for November 14

News Release
November 11, 2013

Steering Committee plans forum “For Youth, By Youth”

KINGSTON, ONT. / November 11, 2013 – Kingston’s first Youth Homelessness forum, “For Youth, By Youth”, is scheduled for November 14 at 11 a.m. in Memorial Hall, City Hall. The forum will include remarks from Mayor Gerretsen, personal stories from youth who have experienced homelessness and members of the Mobilizing Local Capacity to End Youth Homelessness Steering Committee.

This year, Kingston was selected to be one of two communities (the other being Kamloops B.C.) to participate in a national pilot project, with the objective to develop a plan on mobilizing local capacity to end youth homelessness in mid-sized communities. For the KFL&A region, the project is led by the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington.

The project started with the recruitment of a steering committee in early 2013. A point in time count in early March determined there were 45 youth in shelters in Kingston and an additional 64 across the region were couch surfing or precariously housed on a specific day. Focus Groups were conducted with homeless and at risk youth at transitional youth housing programs, emergency shelters, youth drop-in programs and alternative education programs for youth. The key themes identified during these focus groups will be explored at the Youth Forum.

“Last year 27% of individuals in shelters were youth, aged 15-24”, says Bhavana Varma, president & CEO, United Way of KFL&A. “The voices of youth through this project have reminded us of the courage and resiliency of youth who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. By bringing together and engaging youth, agencies and the community, we hope to develop a shared plan to end youth homelessness in the region.”

A Youth Planning Committee (YPC) has been formed, made up of youth, including those with lived experience. Members of this committee have worked with steering committee representatives to organize the ‘For Youth, By Youth’ forum. The local YPC has developed their own logo, identified a campaign to raise awareness about the issue, including selecting a colour for youth homelessness and videotaping personal stories. These will be shown at the forum. Students from St. Lawrence College will facilitate the forum on November 14th, exploring potential solutions. Students from local high schools, shelters and agencies have been invited and approximately 250 youth are expected to attend.

With this input, the United Way will develop a plan to end youth homelessness. A draft plan and strategies will be presented at a Community Forum in spring 2014.

If you would like more information, please visit the United Way website.

About United Way of KFL&A
United Way works with individuals, organizations and key partners to build and strengthen our community, bringing people and resources together to facilitate change. Our vision is a future where people are self-sufficient in a community, where individuals live with hope, dignity and a sense of belonging. Visit www.unitedwaykfla.ca for more information.

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Media Contact:
Bhavana Varma, President & CEO, United Way of KFL&A
613-542-2674, ext. 2, bvarma@unitedwaykfla.ca

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