Coordinating frontline and system-wide responses to the problems faced by at-risk youth in our communities.
Youth Matters was a response that evolved in November 2012, when 25 inner city youth — mostly Indigenous 13-15 years olds — were involved in discussions and efforts to make a suicide pact. Efforts by community agencies in response to this information saw coordinated interventions that averted these plans, with the realization that much more had to be done -both for these youth and for the many others with similar vulnerabilities. Youth Matters was created to bring this vision to life, and has become a quarterly forum held by Our Place and attended by senior staff of various government agencies and local institutions. Since its beginning, it has advocated for systems change and policies that are accountable to Inner City and Indigenous children, youth and families.
The Youth Matters focus is on setting priorities, directing joint efforts, and bringing in relevant resources to address serious and/or systematic issues or conditions impacting the lives and interfering with positive outcomes for youth at risk. Today the coalition includes over 30 organizations, who meet on a quarterly basis to coordinate efforts to help address the gaps in support for inner city youth at risk. Once a product of local group mobilization, it has now evolved into a forum attended by community and institutional representatives seeking comprehensive, long-term solutions.
Our Place continues to host the quarterly Youth Matter meetings in Vancouver’s inner city and we have done several specific forums with youth outreach workers and several others connected with resident based organizations. Our goal is to restructure and realign the existing systems of all levels of government to ensure we are engaging youth in decision making positions at key points of community development which builds one’s sense of inclusion and reflecting the needs and aspirations of young peoples in the inner city neighbourhoods.
Youth Matters Objectives:
- Accountability: Youth are supported in the community to have the independent ability to participate in decision-making, and systems and organizations have mechanisms to incorporate and respond to the feedback that youth give.
- Integrated Systems: Systems and organizations work together to enhance and build a continuum of connected and relevant responses and opportunities that are accountable to youth.
- Policy and Practice: Partners are sharing information and coordinating systems for high risk youth together in a transparent way, and are dealing with policy and practice issues and barriers that exist to the inclusion and engagement of youth.