CALGARY — Signs have been posted inside a downtown Calgary park to help residents learn some of the harsh realities of youth living on the streets.
The campaign, started by the Safe Haven Foundation, includes more than 250 signs posted in spots across the city where young members of Calgary’s homeless population are known to have settled down to sleep.
The organization says the issue put a number of youth at risk and something needs to be done.
“In August of this year, there were just over 100 youth under the age of 24 who were not able to access housing with supports right here in our city and those are just the ones that we know about,” said Carolyn Holloway, Safe Haven’s community engagement officer.
Through its own program, called Haven’s Way, Holloway says they have had a lot of youth and families reaching out for help over the past 18 months of the pandemic.
“What we’re seeing more than ever is these parents – they’re already stressed, they’re increasingly stretched having to decide between working and providing for their families or putting their children’s education first.”
Holloway says those situations lead to increased risk of abuse, substance abuse and families losing touch with one another.
She says this is the first time they’ve created a campaign like this and adds it’s eye-opening for many people who see it.
“People aren’t really aware, especially the homeless youth aspect of it,” she said. “I think that’s sometimes what shocks people.”
According to the foundation’s data, approximately 1,200 people sleep in shelters each night and an estimate 250 Calgary youth are homeless.
The Safe Haven Foundation has been helping the homeless and at-risk youth for the past 25 years.
Further information about its work can be found online.