A Way Home Kamloops is about to start work on a community-wide youth homelessness count that will put youth who were previously homeless at the front of the project.
This youth-led project has been funded by the RBC Foundation.
A Way Home Kamloops is an agency that provides youth with housing, education and employment training.
Executive director Katherine McParland said five youth advisors will be hired to lead the initiative.
She said the youth will develop a unique methodology that will uncover hidden homelessness and give voice to the most marginalized in youth in the community about gaps in services and solutions that are needed.
This program will provide employment and education peer navigation supports and a work experience program for youth who had previously experienced homelessness.
“It’s another way to build capacity for so many young people at A Way Home,” said Kira Cheeseborough, peer navigator at the agency. “We really value that lived expertise. It’s the core and central to all that we do.”
A Way Home Kamloops has already conducted interviews with candidates for the five positions, with the youth homelessness count scheduled to occur in the spring and early summer of 2021.
The peer navigation program officially launched in November of 2018 after being developed by Cheeseborough after she began to see the barriers formerly homeless youth could encounter when trying to return to school or the workforce.
She began to conceptualize the program as a way to help young people feel more comfortable and be able to pursue their goals or ambitions with a peer who shares the same experience.
“Day to day, I would be getting young people connected with employers, helping support them in building their resumes, interview skills,” she said.
Youth are also helped with school registration and receive financial support via bursaries from Thompson Rivers University.
“This program is providing opportunities to many of the young people in our communities,” Cheeseborough said.