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Province, City support Safe Space for West End youth
Funding allows Spence Neighbourhood Association to open a 24-hour safe space
Released: 4:26 p.m.
Winnipeg, MB - Funding from the Manitoba government and a donation in-kind from the City of Winnipeg will help allow the Spence Neighbourhood Association to open a 24-hour safe space, giving at-risk youth in Winnipeg's West End neighbourhood a safe space to go to no matter what time of the day they need it, Children and Youth Opportunities Minister Melanie Wight and Cindy Gilroy, City Councillor, Daniel McIntyre, announced today.
“Having a safe space open overnight means youth in the West End neighbourhood will always have somewhere to go, whether they need protection, someone to talk to or just a safe place to hang out with friends,” said Minister Wight. “This is something the entire community has rallied around and our government is proud to make sure such an important program gets rolling as soon as possible.”
The Spence Neighbourhood Association (SNA), in partnership with the City of Winnipeg, currently runs a drop-in program for youth, Monday to Friday, from 3:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. out of the City of Winnipeg-owned and operated Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre (MERC) on Langside Street. Seeing the need for a safe place for its users to have access to outside of those hours, SNA and volunteers with the community-based West End 24/7 Safe Space group have been working to raise the money needed to keep the program running from 10:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. on weekends and school holidays.
The group has been able to raise $35,000 from the community and today the province committed another $380,000 for the project over the next three years. The City of Winnipeg has also committed to provide in-kind contributions to allow the MERC building to remain open during the hours required for the operation of the 24-hour safe space.
“I am so proud of all those who worked tirelessly going door to door collecting signatures and talking about the need for a 24/7 safe space for youth. I am fully behind this project and am thrilled that I can advocate for it at City Hall,” said Councillor Gilroy. “This is a great step to providing a safe space for youth in our community and I'm so pleased and honored to be part of this announcement today.”
“We have been working for over a year with the community and youth who are out on the streets and need a safe space. Our youth are most vulnerable overnight, so a 24-hour safe space in the West End neighbourhood will mean they have safety, love and supports when they need it most,” said Jamil Mahmood, executive director, SNA. “This funding for a 24-hour safe space will save lives of youth in the community and provide love and support youth need 24 hours a day.”
The program targets youth between the ages of 15 and 26 and the SNA currently sees an average of 80 to 100 youth taking part every day. It expects as many as 30 participants will use the space overnight once the extended hours start this spring.
For ongoing information see the following links:Spence Neighbourhood Association Facebook Page for West End 24/7 Safe Space