Almost a year to the day after receiving funding, Kingston Home Base Housing staff, along with youth, families, and community partners, gathered Friday afternoon, May 5, 2023, to celebrate the opening of the One Roof Youth Wellness Hub in Kingston, part of the Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO) program.
Last year on May 4, YWHO confirmed funding from the Government of Ontario for eight new Youth Wellness Hub sites, one of which would be in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.
The Hub at 620 Princess Street (corner of Albert Street), formerly Princess Street United Church and now known as One Roof Youth Wellness Hub, provides integrated services for youth aged 12 to 25 years old in a “one-stop shop” mode. The local site is a partnership between Maltby Centre, Kingston Home Base Housing, Kingston Community Health Centers, and Resolve.
Before cutting the opening ribbon, Mayor Bryan Paterson said, “I love the vision of what you guys are doing here. I love the collaboration and the teamwork. I love the hope that you feel when you walk into this place and how we’re all coming together as a community to be able to help amazing young people… who have incredible talents, creativity, and vision… and being able to help them overcome challenges in their lives that are no fault of their own…. This is what Kingston is all about, right here.”
Paterson continued, “I appreciate all the work that all the partners have done, the One Roof staff — you guys are awesome… This is really a beacon of hope… and I’m so excited to use these giant scissors to cut the ribbon.”
According to a release, the Youth Wellness Hub provides rapid access to walk-in, low-barrier services and integrates mental health, substance use, primary care, vocational, housing, and other support services into one care model offered in a youth-friendly space.
It can also provide early and evidence-based interventions matched to an individual’s level of need, and can support transitions to specialized care services when the severity of need is evident.
YWHO funding will complement the array of youth services currently provided by a wide range of youth-serving organizations at the One Roof site.
Attendees of the event met the Youth Wellness Team, including a young man named Zach who is the Youth Peer Support Worker on staff. Zach proudly declared that he is a “youth with lived experience with mental health [issues] and addictions [who] spent lots of time homeless and on the streets using substances, and I am now 16 months clean and counting,” garnering a large round of applause and whoops of heartfelt support from the assembled crowd.
Zach continued, “What I do here is [use] my lived experience to help other youth who may be struggling with the same thing.”
Many of the speakers remarked on the “cool factor” of the new space, which was mainly designed by the youth clientele to be a comfortable place to hang out, do laundry, take a shower, grab a bite to eat, and get the medical and mental support they need from a nurse practitioner or counsellor. The Youth Wellness Team also travels to more distant locations around the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington areas.
According to YWHO, since even before the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a province-wide surge in the demand for high-quality youth mental health and substance use services, as well as other supports. The new One Roof Youth Wellness Hub will go a long way in helping to meet this demand, the organization said.