“We are the only non- profit youth shelter in the Region of Peel following some confidentiality guidelines. Ours is a private agency that serves the most marginalized youth centre within the region”
Christy Upshall, Executive Director of Our Place Peel
“We are struggling to give shelter as we are turning away a lot of youth that needs shelter. We only have 20 beds to offer and the region has almost 1.7 million population.”
By Shivani Sharma
Our Place Peel is a registered non-profit agency providing shelter, support and hope for homeless and disadvantaged youth aged 16 – 21 in the Region of Peel. Our Place Peel endeavours to empower youth to take control of their lives, break harmful patterns, and make a healthy, new start.
Our Place Peel helps kids stay in their own community, close to school, jobs, and any family or peer support they have. As the only homeless shelter for youth in Peel, we strive to support as many youth as possible, yet last year we turned away more than 500 kids due to lack of space.
In 1985, Our Place Peel opened a 6 bed residential program inBramptonfor youth who were homeless, without adequate supervision, or living in an unacceptable home environment. This was in response to the community-identified need for services aimed at helping youth at risk of homelessness. In spring 2010, Our Place Peel’s Board of Directors made the difficult decision to close the residential program inBramptoneffective June 30, 2010.
Christy Upshall, Executive Director of Our Place Peel tells Generation Next about the work and challenges of this organization.
“We are the only non- profit youth shelter in the Region of Peel following some confidentiality guidelines. Ours is a private agency that serves the most marginalized youth centre within the region,” she tells us.
Here’s our conversation with Ms. Upshall.
What age group do you serve the most?
We serve 16 to 21 years.
Where are majority of your clients from?
Most of our clients are fromMississaugaarea and we serve mixed population.
How do you tell new immigrants that your organization serves them?
We do workshops throughout the community and in organizations that request our presence.
How responsive are people to your organization?
People are very happy to know that there is an organization like ours to support homeless issues.
When they come in to do programs, they have to follow some rules. We offer workshops on budgeting, accommodation searching and getting them back to school. We try to prepare them for independent living by providing skill training as a lot of them live on their own.
How open is your organization to seminars and workshops?
If people were to come in to do some workshops and programming, they will have to give us a call and we can set something up. The programs that we provide are displayed on a monthly calendar.
How do you help people find jobs?
We have a resource room where we help the youth with employment opportunities. The focus of the department is getting the youth ready for employment and preparing resume, teach presentation in the interview and looking for opportunities.
Do you collaborate with professional organizations?
We do partnerships, networking and support one another.
What are your challenges as an organization?
We are struggling to give shelter as we are turning away a lot of youth that needs shelter. We only have 20 beds to offer and the region has almost 1.7 million population.
What kind of support do you look for from the government and the community?
Most of our funding comes from the government and the community. We also have funding support from the Region Of Peel, which is a big community support andUnited Way. We do a lot of fund raising within the community. We have to do some fund raising and look for volunteer support.
How do you know people are satisfied with your services?
We have feedback surveys that we offer clients. It is very important for us. They are a part of the decisions that we have made regarding our services. We have team meetings where both staff and the clients gather around and talk about programs and how their stay was and what we can do to improve upon.
What is your vision for the organization?
We want to expand programs. We think that there is a need to expand and create more support for the youth. We want to eliminate homelessness in the region and support people, as much as we can.
To learn more about Our Place Peel, please visit http://www.ourplacepeel.org/index_corp.html