Youth safe space in Winnipeg’s West End faces first winter
Luke Whitmore, CONTRIBUTOR
This is the first winter youth in Winnipeg’s West End will have access to a 24- hour safe space, offering them shelter, food and company.
The West End community, concerned for the safety of its youth, connected with the Spence Neighbourhood Association to create the West End 24-Hour Safe Space (WE24) in June 2016, the safe space website says.
WE24 has yet to experience winter.
Lin Howes, the project manager for the safe space and a Red River College educational assistant graduate, said the centre is preparing for winter by collecting and distributing gloves, toques and warm socks, while cooking warm meals each night for the youth.
“We know these young people that we have built such strong and positive relationships with are really struggling with a lot of serious challenges, including housing,” said Howes, 31.
Richard McCrae, 30, works as a youth mentor at the WE24. He said he’s seen people come to the safe space for various reasons, including addiction, mental health issues and facing extreme violence.
“It can be hectic at times, and the people who come here face a lot of barriers or have a lot of issues that they deal with on a daily basis,” McCrae said. “We just try to be a place that’s welcoming to everybody and a safe place that people can stay, get some rest, a bite to eat and just feel welcome.”
As the months get colder, the WE24 team is working to connect youth with housing supports so they can ensure youth have a place to go to stay safe and warm.
The safe space is located on 430 Langside St. at the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre. It is open 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Fridays, Saturdays, holidays and PD days during the school year.