On April 4, individuals and teams from leading BC companies will join Directions Youth Services for A Night in the Life — an overnight event that provides a glimpse into the lived experience of youth homelessness.
The night will be spent sleeping on a sidewalk outside of Directions Youth Services Centre and across from St. Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver.
Participants will experience a youth-led Cardboard Van City Homelessness Survival Simulator, receive Nalaxone training, spend the night on the street in a sleeping bag, and wake up to a hot breakfast prepared by Directions staff.
“When youth have experienced harm and trauma and little else, they often don’t feel they are worthy of care and respect,” says Karin Kirkpatrick, CEO of Family Services of Greater Vancouver.
“Our incredible staff at Directions Youth Services see the possibility in every young person. When we offer them a safe night’s sleep, a healthy and warm meal, or a hot shower, youth may see possibility in themselves, and we can further connect them to things like mental health care, housing, and income supports. The smallest things can lead to big things in their lives.”
Directions Youth Services is a collection of services supporting youth under 25 who face homelessness. Last year, the organization served over 1000 youth.
“Living on the street is a harsh reality for hundreds of youth in Vancouver. Most are fleeing physical or sexual violence, emotional abuse, or neglect. Many are rejected for their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said the organization in a release.
“Many are dangerously impacted by a poisoned drug supply. Most require mental health supports. All of them have experienced trauma. All of them are in pain. Young people don’t choose homelessness: unfortunately, it’s sometimes better than the place they used to call home.”
Directions Youth Services is calling on all British Columbians to take action against youth homelessness.
Directions has also introduced its Add To Cart campaign to bus shelters and billboards across the Lower Mainland.
The transit shelter ads have embedded QR codes, which scan with a phone and connect to the Directions website. The campaign reminds people that even a small donation provides for the small things that can lead to big things in the lives of homeless youth.
“Becoming aware of youth homelessness is not enough,” says Marnie Goldenberg, Director of Directions Youth Services. “So many of us are so busy shopping and scrolling, we aren’t addressing the real challenges we face in our community. Add To Cart is a chance for the people of BC to use their purchasing power to support our youth who are the most in need.”
Daily Hive is a proud media sponsor of A Night in the Life