There is now a place where youth in Langley can go to feel welcomed, build relationships and connect with health services under one roof.
Langley Youth Hub, located at Whytecliff Agile Learning Centre, will be open every Tuesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The youth drop-in centre at 20561 Logan Ave., is the result of efforts of many community partners and the vision of Langley youth advocate Cory Reid, who was for a time homeless as a youth.
On May 24, Reid showed politicians, youth, police officers and government service providers around the new Hub.
The Hub also held a barbecue to invite youth to come check out the centre.
“This is pretty exciting,” said Reid who has been hired to work with the youth at the new centre.
In looking into what youth in Langley need, they found that services for teens — including substance abuse counseling, clinical counseling, even seeing a doctor — are difficult for youth to access in Langley.
More often than not, they just don’t get any help, said Reid.
Range of Services Offered through Hub
Mental health problems among young people is a growing issue and this provides services under one roof.
Any youth in Langley can visit the Hub to find acceptance and care, said Barb Stack, project lead and patient navigator for Langley Division of Family Practice, one of many partners involved in the Hub.
There will be medical services, substance abuse counseling and programs, a family physician, support programs and mental health counseling. As well, they will provide such basics as meals, bus passes and help with housing or job searches.
Reid said thanks must also go to Whytecliff school for lending their space to the Hub.
The Hub has a full kitchen, a dining area, a room to hang out, computer access, a doctor’s room, games room, smoke pit and gender-neutral bathrooms. There is a music room, but the instruments all have to be returned, Reid said. They are hoping someone steps up to donate more so youth can jam and express themselves through music.
“My job is to get to know the youth, find out what they need and get them talking to the right people who can be effective, not the ones that will waste their time.
“We want a safe place where youth can go and they won’t be judged and they have people here they can learn to trust and talk to.”
Langley still lacks a homeless shelter for youth, while help for mental health and drug addiction are difficult to access and far away.
‘Langley Just Got Forgotten’
“Langley is sandwiched between Surrey and Abbotsford. Both communities have a lot of services and somehow Langley just got forgotten, despite the huge numbers of youth in need here,” Reid said.
The number of Langley youth identified last year as being homeless is 160. He said it is actually higher than that.
“Cory has been a pit bull to get this for Langley’s youth,” said Langley RCMP youth at risk officer Cpl. Janet Northrup who attended the opening day and barbecue on Tuesday. “He wanted to start this in his own community and it’s very cool to see.”
Having worked with Langley’s youth for a number of years, Northrup is happy she can now tell teens at risk or youth in crisis that they have a safe place to go.
“I get to tell them, ‘You aren’t alone. Go here on Tuesdays and Thursdays and you will find friendship and good company, a safe place with lots of resources like access to a GP,” she said.
Reid is one of the biggest advocate for kids who are going through the things he did.
Troubled Youth Fuels Desire to Help
When Reid was just two years old, he saw a man commit suicide by jumping out a window and landing on the pavement beside him. At the time, his mom was told he wouldn’t remember it as he got older.
But now research shows that trauma experienced as a baby or toddler can have long-lasting effects.
Reid has had night terrors, a fear of sleeping and severe anxiety ever since. Unable to cope, he found one form of self-medication that worked.
“When I tried crystal meth at a really young age, I pretty much fell in love with the drug because I could go three, four, five days without sleeping, and whenever I did sleep, it was just my body essentially shutting down; I wouldn’t dream,” he said.
When Reid was a teenager he found himself homeless and plagued by undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health issues. From a distance, he may have seemed like a lost cause.
He shuffled through the system, met with psychologists and doctors. He was prescribed pills and sent on his way. Reid said he felt judged and had no attachments.
While going through the Langley Basic Lifeskills Training program for youth, Reid did find some adults who he connected with.
Reid realized he needed to change his life when he had his first child at 17.
He quit drugs and got the help he needed to start healing.
Now 28 years old, Reid worked on his own time to bring help for youth in his home town in hopes they find effective help sooner than he did.
– with files from Miranda Gathercole
***** This article has been corrected to clarify that the Hub does not receive any federal or provincial funding. It is made possible through the efforts of many community partners.