Directions: Past, Present, Future (Part 3)

Published: October 30, 2023

Did ya miss parts 1 or 2?

Part 1 Part 2

In Part 2, we focused on some of the ways that being youth-informed has shaped our programming from the youth-made zine The Slice to Move Out Kits for those leaving Safehouse.

This time, we’re discussing more of our specialized programming.

Lived Experience

Many of our staff at Directions have lived experiences with the same forms of marginalization that our youth go through every day. Whether they have been homeless or street-involved, are racialized, queer, or disabled, our staff are bringing their hearts to their work. ALL of our staff are here because they care.

This ability to relate gives us an edge in building trust with youth who don’t trust easily. 

Meeting Youth Where They’re At

The Directions Outreach time is kinda the way all of our sites interact. They’re out and about literally meeting youth where they’re at. You’ve maybe even seen our Outreach team around, carrying their big orange backpacks!

Outreach keeps it low-key and isn’t around to be pushy. They give the youth they encounter support and resources like:

  • snacks, juice, and water
  • harm reduction kits
  • hygiene products
  • help with birth certificate and other ID applications
  • connections to services (housing, medical, social, and so on)
  • culture kits

This amazing team is meeting youth out in the community, building trust, and showing them that someone cares.
WE care.

Harm Reduction

At least 142 BC youth under the age of 19 lost their lives to toxic drugs from 2017-2022. This makes it the leading cause of unnatural death in BC youth during that time. Fentanyl or its analogues were detected in 78% of all these deaths.

When we see this data, we explore the deeper meaning behind it and ask how we at FSGV can support our young people and families. 

Drug toxicity is one of the reasons we advocate for harm reduction.
It’s why we offer safe-use kits – not just to youth ages 13-24 but to folks of all ages.
It’s why our Directions staff have Naloxone training.

Simply put: harm reduction saves lives, and that’s something we fully stand behind.

Directions Youth Detox

For close to 30 years, we operated withdrawal management services at Directions Youth Detox, a voluntary, home-like social detox that provided room, board, counselling, and other supports to youth who were detoxing from substances that didn’t require around-the-clock medical supervision.

On June 3, 2022, Directions Youth Detox closed its doors, following a decision by VCH to redesign withdrawal management services for youth.

Of course we appreciate that service delivery models need to evolve as new evidence emerges but we’d like to celebrate what the program gave youth

Community Support

While going through the Directions archives, we found several articles from throughout the 90s discussing some public resistance to our youth programming. There was clearly a wave of discontent and it’s very interesting to see how things have evolved.

These days, we have so many community partners, programs we coordinate services and events with, and individuals who make our work possible. An ocean of support

YOU can be part of our crucial support network.
Are you part of a company or organization that wants to partner with us? Contact us at: [email protected]
Are you an individual looking to make a difference in youths’ lives? Apply to work or volunteer with us at fsgv.ca/careers

Our Community Partners

Collaborating creates stronger community. Being able to work closely with likeminded organizations gives us the ability to bring more value to our clients. 

THANK YOU to our partners who enrich, deepen, and strengthen our programs and services!


Every month we host a variety of educational events and workshops on topics like

  • sexual and relationship health
  • finances
  • grocery shopping
  • cooking
  • and other life skills to equip youth with knowledge and abilities to build the lives they want for themselves.

Reaching Home: Preventing Youth Homelessness

Reaching home provides housing subsidies to youth who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness. We’ve been running this program for one year and the results have been life-changing.

From helping young single parents to underage refugees, we’ve been able to make sure participants can afford housing. We’ve been able to prevent some youth from being unhoused and have been able to get others off the streets and into housing.

Having secured housing free them up to do other things like focus on their jobs, go back to school, or finish their immigration processes. It’s pulling them out of crisis into a place where they have the chance to think about more than surviving.

“One youth has been feeling a sense of calm with the extra support and is thankful for the extra information and support because they were not previously aware of what was available to them.”

Our participation in this program, part of VanCity’s Reaching Home, for the past year has already been changing lives. And we’re so excited to see where we’re able to take it!

Stats ⇒ Programming

Stats about our clients inform the way we approach programming. They’re why we’re intentional about hiring staff with lived experience and working with our Youth Advisory Committee.

These numbers inform our donation requests – while of course it’s nice to have clothing of all kinds on hand, the fact that 6/10 of our clients are young men means that we need a larger supply of things sized for men.
Between the stats and YAC’s input, we shape programming to the youth we see.

25%+ are 2SLGBTQIA+ ⇒ we have queer programming, like drag nights

50%+ are Indigenous ⇒ we host Indigenous culture workshops, like drum making

Youth tell us they have experienced being in unsafe relationships ⇒ we host consent and healthy relationship workshops

Directions youth are so much more than statistics. But these stats are a tool; they are information we can’t ignore.
They tell us about the problems so we can implement and advocate for solutions.
They tell use about needs so that we can meet them. 

Supporting Youth

Since 2015, youth have visited our Drop-In Centre more than 200,000 times. 

We’ve been here for this region’s youth for more than 30 years. The youth we work with are part of our community; they always have been.

As far off as some of our clients’ problems might seem from your day-to-day reality, these youth are our neighbours, friends, coworkers, and children. YOU might even know someone who has been to DYS.

Supporting solutions to youth homelessness is the responsibility of us all – and every single thing we do to support them is something we’re doing to build up our community. 

The Future of Supporting Youth

After talking about all the ways we’ve been there for youth, we can’t help but get excited about the future.

We see

  • more 2SLGBTQIA+ events, workshops, and supports
  • expanded Indigenous culture events, workshops, and supports
  • a bigger budget for and more donations to our Food Program
  • upgrades to our sites
We believe in our clients and their futures.Do you?
Can you help us make some of these workshops, events, and changes happen? Let’s chat.