Foundry Abbotsford recently marked its fourth anniversary. (Submitted)

Foundry Abbotsford marks its fourth anniversary

Demand for services and complexity of needs increases over the years

Foundry Abbotsford recently marked its fourth year in operation since opening in June 2018.

Foundry Abbotsford provides physical and mental health care, substance use supports, social services and peer support to local youth and young adults along with their families.

In the last fiscal year ending March 2022, 2,116 youth visited over 8,400 times. Physical health services made up 37 per cent of the visits, 22 per cent were related to sexual health, with mental health and walk-in counselling making up another 26 per cent of the visits. A quarter of the youth said they wouldn’t have sought help if it wasn’t for Foundry.

However, the organization stated that the need for support is outpacing Foundry’s ability to help. An average of 18 youth are turned away each month when they seek walk-in counselling.

RELATED: Foundry Abbotsford opens its doors to youth in need

“We know it took a lot of courage for these youth to come through the door and our fear is always that these individuals might not make a second attempt if they are turned away. Even if we invite them to come back the next day, we might have missed the window of opportunity to help,” stated Karen Lavoie, the Manager at Foundry Abbotsford.

There is also a two-to-three month waiting list to receive help applying for Persons with Disability status and three-month waitlist for ADHD assessments. Clients seeking gender-affirming care at the Transcare clinic have to wait over six months and new mental health patients are waiting several weeks.

Foundry staff say that the complexity of some youth’s experiences has increased. Participants are often dealing with a variety of issues at once including lack of access to food, housing and employment.

RELATED: VIDEO: Take a walk through Abbotsford Foundry

“Issues like mental health are compounded when a youth doesn’t have a secure place to live or when they’re worried about their next meal,” said Lavoie. “We have an Archway Food Bank satellite location at Foundry that youth can access, and we help with obtaining income assistance so they can focus on their mental health.”

A new program FoundryWorks supports youth with multiple barriers to employment. Employment specialists offer non-judgmental support to explore career and educational opportunities. Since starting in September 2021, 20 youth have enrolled in the program.

Foundry provides services for those ages 12 to 24, with those in the 19-24 age group continuing to be the most active users.

“We’ve always seen a gap in services for young adults in long-term counselling or trauma-type counselling because once you turn 19, there just aren’t enough services within the community to support you,” said Laurel Jarvis, Foundry Abbotsford’s Service Delivery Coordinator.

RELATED: Foundry Abbotsford celebrates one year of helping youth

“And their mental health is going through a bit of a structural change. So we’re struggling to keep up with their referrals.”

The centre – operated by Archway Community Services– brings together a variety of local organizations, including services provided by Fraser Health, Ministry of Children and Family Development, Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and other community partners to transform the way substance use, mental health and wellness services are provided to the city’s youth.

Foundry Abbotsford is one of 12 sites in B.C. with 11 more planned, including centres in Langley and Surrey.

Foundry Abbotsford continues to fundraise in order to increase the number of youth it can serve. To support Foundry visit Archway.ca/foundrygift.

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