Winter Inn program extended to youth

Red Deer’s Youth Winter Inn will open Nov. 1 to provide a safe place for intoxicated or homeless youth to sleep.

Red Deer’s Youth Winter Inn will open Nov. 1 to provide a safe place for intoxicated or homeless youth to sleep.

Youth and Volunteer Centre of Red Deer had been on the hunt for funding for about 18 months when it received $125,000 this summer from the City of Red Deer for the six-month pilot project.

The 10-mat program will be open to youth age 14 to 17, from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. seven days a week.

“It’s exciting. It will be good. I think it’s a needed service in the community and we’ll see where it takes us,” said David Murphy, the executive director of the Youth and Volunteer Centre.

Last winter, some youth were using the Winter Inn program that is set up for adults. That’s when work began on developing a more suitable place for youth.

The volunteer centre runs the 49th Street Youth Shelter, an eight-bed emergency youth shelter for 12- to 17-year-olds, but youth require parental permission to use it and they can’t be intoxicated.

Murphy said it was a struggle to find funding as homelessness among youth isn’t always “on the radar.”

As staff work with youth, the teens will be referred to other community services if they’re willing to address their issues.

Murphy said by spring, staff will also have a better idea how to help youth and what other programs may be needed.

Funding for the Youth Winter Inn came from the city’s federal funding to address homelessness.

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