We have supplied a $4,864 Emergency Community Support Fund grant to Leave Out Violence (LOVE). This funding is being used to support their efforts to alleviate the influence of COVID-19 on multi-barrier youth in Surrey by providing them with a safe space, keeping them connected with their peers and mentors at Love, and using various art programs to support young people.
LOVE is a youth-led organization that supports young people between the ages of 13-19. The organization was founded in 2000 on the belief that youth impacted by violence can be agents of change, capable of transforming their own lives, investing in their communities, and making the world a safer place. LOVE focuses on issues such as social justice, anti-violence, anti-racism, and anti-oppression, as well as supports youth from various demographics such as LGBTQ, BIPOC, Immigrants, Refugees, Physically/Mentally Disabled, and in or transitioning out of Foster Care.
Love supports youth by providing them with various outlets such as arts and leadership programs, exploring their experiences, sharing their views of the world, and building leadership skills. Through this, the participants of LOVE’s programs can amplify their own voices around their experiences. This way they can learn to create healthy relationships, build their self-esteem, and become aware of their skills.
“One of the key pieces for supporting the youth is to be able to create safe spaces whether they are in person or online” explained Lambrini Soulos, Executive Director at LOVE BC. “We believe in looking for ways to create those safe spaces, so young people can self-identify. This way they can talk about and explore the concerns that they have whether it is about their emotional and mental well-being, their gender identity or whether they are a newcomer having difficulties navigating through those systems.”
Since COVID-19 the challenges faced by vulnerable youth in Surrey have amplified. As social distancing and quarantine measures were introduced, the one-on-one support has significantly decreased. The significant psychological impacts on marginalized young people are causing an increase in stress, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Many young people don’t have stable housing or income and therefore cannot safely engage in home-based social distancing.
“Thanks to SurreyCares and ECSF we can continue our work and support the vulnerable youth in our community,” says Kat, Program Associate at LOVE BC. “We still have quite a few members that come online every week, which has really helped so they do not lose that connection. A lot of the participants are still struggling daily and it feels good to know that they can rely on us.”
LOVE organization has always focused on supporting marginalized and vulnerable youth in Surrey. Ever since the pandemic, there has been a growing impact of isolation, loss of support, loss of income on the young people in our community. They have a real fear for their future as well as their current mental health. The loss of in-person programming has been a significant blow to the youth involved in support programs. LOVE has had to pivot quickly to ensure that vulnerable youth are not left behind, by switching to virtual support programs and sessions. There have been some challenges and learning curves towards the use of applications and virtual programs to staying connected and creating outreach for youth but, the LOVE BC team has ensured support to youth is not decreased by making the switch to virtual programming is as smooth and accessible as possible
This grant is made possible through the Government of Canada's $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund, which saw over $900,000 allocated to SurreyCares in its first round and now, over $575,000 in the second round.
“Vulnerable and marginalized youth are even more at risk amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, SureyCares Community Foundation is grateful to be able to support LOVE and its youth. LOVE’s programs and workshops are incredibly important as many Surrey youth need the support to help them explore and navigate through the challenges of life in a way that assists them in becoming aware of their individuality,” said Christine Buttkus, Executive Director of SurreyCares Community Foundation.
Individuals and businesses who wish to support Surrey charities are asked to give to the Surrey Community Relief Fund. In partnership with the Surrey Now-Leader, Surrey Board of Trade and The Saheli Foundation, the goal is to raise $500,000 to support the most vulnerable populations in Surrey.
To learn more about LOVE, visit their website: https://loveorganization.ca/bc/