Despite research report, not all Victoria youth feel disconnected from community

Youth Vital Signs report helps focus resources, create awareness: executive director

Youth in Greater Victoria feel less connected to their community and worry about housing, homelessness and education.

That’s according to the results of an annual Victoria Foundation survey.

The Youth Vital Signs report asks people aged 15 to 24 about 13 issues critical to their quality of life, including housing, transportation and the environment.

“We (work with) eight high schools here in the community, giving them $2,500 a year each (to direct to charity),” said Sandra Richardson, executive director. “We ask them to use our reports as a lens to determine where they’d like grants to go, but it can’t benefit the school or themselves,” she said.

Last year, the students of Vic High chose Threshold Housing Society, a transitional housing program for at-risk youth.

The report has been produced for two years as a supplement to the all-encompassing Vital Signs report, and helps to educate donors and create awareness of youth issues, Richardson said

Of the roughly 200 young people surveyed, 75 per cent are female and 25 per cent male. Roughly half of respondents volunteer, live with their parents and have lived in the Capital Region all their lives.

The number of youth who reported feeling “very connected” or “somewhat connected” to their community fell from about 88 per cent in 2011 to 71 per cent this year. Young people who felt “hardly connected” rose from 10 per cent of total respondents to 26 per cent over the same period.

The reasons behind that change are more difficult to pinpoint, Richardson said.

“Maybe there are more students living away from home, but I hope the report provides an opportunity to delve deeper into that.”

Carina Pologer and Fairahn Reid, both Grade 12 students at Vic High, would be considered very connected, as both volunteer with various school fundraisers and committees on top of their studies.

“The people who are involved are really involved. They take on everything that they can,” Pologer said. “The people who aren’t involved, it’s probably a matter of appealing to their interests.”

Reid said it’s difficult to place all youth into standardized categories, noting that even students who aren’t displaying overt leadership qualities engage in activities of interest.

“I know classmates who are passionate about environmental issues, so they take part in the Enbridge pipelines protests, for instance,” she said. “It depends what your situation is. If you’re trying to go to university and need to move out and pay rent, it’s really difficult … to find a job and affordable housing.”

On the other end of the spectrum, the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society operates Victoria’s only youth emergency shelter, detox and drop-in centre.

About half of the society’s 2,000 annual clients are at-risk youth, while the other half are just looking for somewhere to go, said Pat Griffin, executive director.

“For us, addictions and mental health are pretty equal in concern to homelessness,” he said.

The society’s nightly drop-in centre has seen participants double in the past two years, an increase attributable to “myriad reasons,” he said.

“A lot of that began when the economy started to go in the tank,” he said.

About 33 per cent of youth who were surveyed for the report believe more year-round youth shelters are needed in the Capital Region.

“We’re the only game in town if (youth) need to detox,” Griffin said.

To view the report and learn more about Vital Signs, visit victoriafoundation.bc.ca.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BREAKING: Demonstrators occupy B.C. Legislature steps despite court injunction

Police negotiating with people gathered in support of some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Old Town hotel developer says full retention of historic buildings ‘impossible’

UVic development partner says past renovations, seismic instability are barriers

CatVideoFest makes its way back to Victoria

A curation of favourite cat videos will be featured on the big screen, all to support cats

Saanich councillor asks District to stand in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

Coun. Nathalie Chambers duplicates ‘tried and true motion’ passed by Victoria in January

Two Scout leaders found near Sooke

The pair went missing Sunday afternoon

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

Most Read