The waiting area at Foundry Campbell River. Photo supplied

The waiting area at Foundry Campbell River. Photo supplied

Youth support service coming to Comox Valley

A support service tailored for young people 12-24 years is coming to the Comox Valley.

Foundry Comox Valley, to be located in Courtenay, will provide non-judgmental care in an effort to reach young people before health challenges become problematic.

The lead agency is the John Howard Society of North Island (JHSNI), which has purchased a building on 10th Street. The hope is to open the service later this year, but the building first requires extensive renovations to create a youth-friendly space.

Foundry is a province-wide network that started at Vancouver IYS (Integrated Youth Services), from which five pilots opened to test the idea across B.C. One of the pilot projects was in Campbell River.

“Bringing one into the Comox Valley is going to be really valuable,” said Wendy Richardson, JHSNI executive director. “The experience in Campbell River is that it makes a very big difference.”

Foundry consists of five core elements, including mental health services and primary care — which can include sexual health. The Campbell River Foundry has a nurse practitioner and a sexual health clinic.

“In Courtenay, it may look a bit different,” Richardson said. “We may have a group of doctors operating out of the Foundry in the Comox Valley, rather than a nurse practitioner.”

Other core elements are addictions/substance use, social services and peer support/navigation.

“All Foundries will have those five key components, and they may look a bit different depending on the needs of the community and what’s available,” Richardson said. “Foundries are very much partnerships. The goal is to bring together existing services, operating them in an integrated fashion, and then using funding from Foundry to fill the gaps.”

In Campbell River, the North Island Employment Foundations Society has provided Foundry with a full-time youth employment counsellor, while the John Howard Society added services for which it is already funded, such as substance use counsellors.

“We’re really encouraging young people to come in,” said Richardson, noting many young people have heard about Foundry through a friend. “There’s a drop-in model. They can just walk in the door and get help without having to get an appointment. That really helps to bring youngsters in early in the process before things get too serious.”

Foundry also expects to have a branch open in Port Hardy in the near future.

The JHSNI is fundraising for Foundry Comox Valley to help with the renovations. Those wishing to donate can do so at www.jhsni.bc.ca, or by mail or in person at the JHSNI Courtenay office at 1455 Cliffe Ave., V9N 2K6.