That word was repeated many times by Vanessa Riplinger, Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre (CCCDC) executive director, after learning Williams Lake will be getting a Foundry — a one-stop-shop for youth services.
“A Foundry is a drop-in centre for youth ages 12 to 24 that offers counselling, mental health supports, family and peer supports, social services supports and primary care,” Riplinger told the Tribune Monday. “Those supports all come together in the foundry and the young people don’t need an appointment. They can come in. It’s a really supportive way of providing service.”
While the CCCDC is the lead agency, the new youth centre will be community-driven and youth will have the most say in what they want in the Foundry.
To plan it, a lot of time will be spent with youth and families, to design a physical space and location.
Riplinger said a youth advisory committee has already been established, and the committee has been engaging with youth.
“We are hoping to expand it and keep it going and are really excited about that too.”
Back in 2016, Riplinger attended the first information meetings with government about applying to have a Foundry.
Williams Lake’s application was not successful in the first round, but it gave locals an idea about what they needed to do and the time that was needed to put into an application.
The community took a collaborative approach and in 2018 applied again, gathered letters of support and presented them to the funders.
“We had wonderful support and partnerships with our Indigenous organizations, agencies and communities and had a ton of letters of support. It’s been a Cariboo-Chilcotin Williams Lake project. Everybody wants what is best for our youth and we will have an Indigenous wellness piece and that will be determined by our youth and Indigenous communities and nations.”
Funding will depend on the needs of the community and its size and Riplinger said they have not done a budget yet, but said each centre is eligible for up to $800,000 to help address start-up costs and up to another $700,000 in annual funding.
“It’s just going to be a wonderful, wonderful, addition to services in Williams Lake. It’s addictions, it’s mental health, it’s community care services and such great support.
“It will be a welcoming place.”
There is a Foundry central out of Vancouver that will help and oversee the centre in Williams Lake and Riplinger said there is branding associated for every centre that is the same throughout all Foundries.
The other communities that are getting Foundries are Burns Lake, Comox Valley, Cranbrook, Langley, Squamish, Surrey and Port Hardy.
In 2019, 9,770 young people accessed services at Foundry centres around B.C., with more than 35,000 visits recorded in total, the province noted in a news statement.