Just a few weeks ago, Directions Youth Services Centre moved house from their temporary location on Pacific Street to the new facility located at the old location on Burrard Street and the centre was officially opened on June 11.
But before the move could happen, three staff members, Nicki McGregor, John Taylor, the day program co-ordinator and Sherlan John, the after-hours supervisor, participated in security training. Directions uses a software program that operates the automatic doors that lets youth in, the air phone system and the security cameras.
They were also tasked with assessing the overall security and flow of the building: with only one key fob between them, they walked around the building assessing which staff should have access to certain areas of the building. It was a revealing exercise: “There were a couple of times when I stepped away from John and Sherlan and they got trapped. You can’t move without a key fob,” says Nicki. “That prompted us to just walk through this place to figure out those places where staff or youth can get trapped.”
They also looked at the building from the point of view of the youth. “There was one point where John was in the kitchen announcing “I’ve spontaneously burst into flames! How do I exit the building?”
In just a couple of hours they produced a list of concerns that they took the Kettle Housing Society and the architects of the building. “We navigated with building without a plan and that’s how generated the plan.”
Both the youth and the staff are excited about the new space. Nicki doesn’t have hard numbers yet but anecdotally it seems more youth are accessing the space. “There’s youth that we didn’t see when we moved to Pacific Street and now they come back.” Again based on the observations of staff, there’s not only a higher traffic pattern, but the youth are staying for longer periods of time. Staff levels will be adjusted accordingly.
While they centre boasts many new features, some things stay the same. Youth who are homeless don’t always have access to a clean, private toilet with a locking door when nature calls. As a result, the bathrooms are well used.
“First week, I was out purchasing plungers,” says Nicki, laughing.