Youth Peer Support Program to provide unique support for youth in KFL&A

United Way KFL&A’s Youth Homelessness Initiative results in new community program

Kingston, ON (December 1, 2022) - The United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington is pleased to announce a new Youth Peer Support Program for youth in the region. This community-driven initiative was identified through a special youth mental health committee spearheaded by Kingston Health Sciences Centre and United Way KFL&A.

Through conversations and with youth, the committee discussed multiple challenges youth often face when they are in crisis, or are discharged from hospital. Youth indicated that having a peer walk with them through this experience would be a tremendous help during the transition.

While there are peer support programs for adults, this community-based program is new for youth in the region. The program will work with youth ages 16- 24 that will be referred to the program. Youth seeking support will then be matched with trained peers over the age of 18, with lived experience.

“Taking a page from the successful Peer-to-peer support model that has been an essential component for adult mental health and substance use health recovery, we now have the same option for youth in transition in Kingston,” explained Shawn Quigley, Executive Direction of Youth Diversion. “Who better to walk beside during your journey than someone who has already walked the pathway.”

This past summer a Youth Program Facilitator was hired by Resolve Counselling Services, with financial support from United Way.

“The Facilitator is working with youth and agencies to really develop a model that works for our community,” explained Tara Everitt, Director of Community Services at Resolve. “We want young people to know they are not alone. We want to help support them to build hope. It is youth supporting youth.”

While the Peer Support Program was being developed, United Way KFL&A sought additional funding to develop and run the program, including paying for training and the positions of Youth Facilitator and Youth Ambassadors. Thanks to generous grants from Yupi.ca Inc and the RBC Foundation, the program has been able to get off the ground.

“United Way has supported this program both by being the leaders in getting the community partners around the table to have these conversations and as part of their work on youth homelessness,” added Everitt. “But in addition to that they are funding 100 per cent of the project thanks to these generous grants and the amazing support of the community.”

After the initial development of the program and pilot period over the next year, the program hopes to expand further to include more youth and agencies in the community and continue to provide prevention support for youth in the region.

For more information about the background of the Peer Support Program and United Way KFL&A’s Collective Impact work on Youth Homelessness visit https://www.unitedwaykfla.ca/blogpeersupport2022/