Sarnia’s Youth HUB located at St Luke’s United Church has seen wonderful success since opening its doors in February 2017, supporting over 800 individual youth aged 16 – 24 who have attended the Hub more than 12,330 times.
Created as a result of a research project targeted to local 16/17-year-olds, recommendations for the establishment of the Sarnia Youth HUB followed, its primary goals being to:
—Develop an inclusive space for youth with input from a youth committee.
—Ensure the presence of authentic workers.
—Consolidate community resources for wrap-around youth care.
Guided by a mission of providing “available space for all youth between the ages of 16-24 so that all their needs are met,” the HUB is a community collaboration of 30+ community partners that include: service providers, youth, families and community members.
These partners not only provide on-site services but participate on one or more governing committees: Hub Advisory, Operational and Strategic Leadership.
The values of the HUB are:
—All youth have the potential to be “at-risk”- this life stage is, by its very nature a difficult time.
—Youth should have their own voice and have a place to direct their future.
—A relationship is a base by which all meaningful change may be built- through it, youth will naturally grow and learn.
The HUB continues to successfully offer a safe space in which the basic needs of youth are met.
Youth can expect to assist with preparing and sharing a hot daily meal, life-skills training, emergency food supplies, assistance with housing, employment and education supports, on-site access to primary health care and mental health and addictions counselling, all of which are provided by the collaborative partners.
These support services are offered in a welcoming environment (created by youth) that has allowed youth to feel truly at home in their current location. It is undoubtedly that this resource is one that continues to be necessary and welcomed by the Sarnia-Lambton community.
Across the parking lot from the HUB is a similar drop-in space for younger youth (ages 12-15) called the r.Lounge, a facility created as a pilot supporting all youth ages 12-24 in this one location while the HUB space underwent renovations at St. Luke’s church.
The r.Lounge and the HUB work in partnership to ensure that similar services are being provided and an easy transition from the r.Lounge to the HUB occurs when a youth turns 16.
“There are many exciting plans in the works to see the HUB become even more sustainable and allow the youth an even greater sense of ownership over this place that they call their own,” said Carrie McEachran, executive director of Sarnia-Lambton Rebound.
Not only the community partners that work in collaboration to ensure the success of the HUN are committed to its sustainability but youth are also very committed, she said, adding that a youth-led social enterprise is in the planning phase along with partnerships that will help with sustainability.
“The generosity of the Sarnia-Lambton community and supporters has played such a significant part in the success of the HUB,” said McEachran. “Without the support of donors such as RBC, United Way Sarnia-Lambton (with an initial one year venture grant), Libro Credit Union, County of Lambton, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Enbridge and so many more, the HUB’s doors would not be open.”