MONTREAL, May 12, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ - As part of it's COVID-19 response measures, Head & Hands teamed up with a group of students from the McGill University Faculty of Medicine to create Never Alone, a bilingual chat line for youth in Montreal available via text, online chat, and phone.
The medical students and team at Head & Hands have observed a lot of anxiety, confusion and social distress among marginalized populations, including at-risk youth, since the start of the pandemic; amplified by a lack of factual and easy-to-access information about the multiplicity of resources available to the public. Never Alone is there to fill in the gap for youth who may find that the services they regularly rely on are closed or overburdened, and have nowhere else to turn.
"We want people to feel safe while being referred to the appropriate entities that can help," says Vincent Brissette, McGill Medical student, and one of the co-founders of Never Alone. "It's important to note that we are offering referral services for people in crisis, not counselling services, which would be offered by KidsHelpPhone, for example."
Never Alone is staffed by 20 volunteers, trained by Head & Hands' Street Work Coordinator, in active listening and harm reduction. The chatline provides information on financial aid, food banks, shelters, and the virus itself, from Monday-Friday, 4 PM-7 PM.
So far, Never Alone has had close to 2000 unique visits to the website, many coming back multiple times.
Since the beginning of quarantine and social distancing measures put in place by the government, Head & Hands shifted the vast majority of services (including Legal and Counseling) to digital-only, doing food deliveries, and opened up the Food Pantry to anyone recently unemployed or in precarious situations to access a mix of non-perishables and fresh fruit and vegetables, regardless of age or where they live.
"There is almost nothing adapted to youth for COVID-19: for them, for their concerns. During times of heightened anxiety like these, it is our most vulnerable who feel the strain: those who will be affected by lack of access to medical or mental health care, food shortages and price increases, or who find themselves socially and physically isolated from their support systems," says Richenda Grazette, Director of Development & Communications at Head & Hands.
About Head & Hands
Since 1970, Head & Hands has been helping youth harness their potential to create healthy, vibrant, and caring communities. We envision a society in which all young people are full participants, inspired by the endless possibilities available to them. Our services include Street Work, food security, young parents programming, a medical clinic, counseling, and legal services.
SOURCE Head and Hands
For further information: Interview requests: please contact Vincent Brissette (514-701-6389 and [email protected]) or Richenda Grazette, Director of Development & Communications at Head & Hands (438-523-1636 and [email protected])