The pandemic has posed many challenges for Canadians across the country. But for children who are at-risk or homeless, it has been especially difficult. Those who struggled with mental health issues before COVID-19 are now under additional stress and financial hardships. This is, in part, due to social isolation as well as difficulty with housing and employment.
Thankfully, there are ways that Canadians can support those in need. But before we explore that, it’s important to understand the ways that COVID-19 has changed the lives of homeless or at-risk youth:
How Has The Pandemic Impacted Children?
We know that many people have lost their jobs, closed their businesses, or downsized their homes due to COVID-19. But something that’s less talked about is how the pandemic affects children.
Challenges that at-risk youth are facing include:
- In Canada, temperatures can drop dangerously low at nighttime. This puts young people who are homeless at a high risk of frostbite or other adverse health issues. Some emergency shelters are only open between late fall to spring, meaning that they aren’t available throughout the entire year. This leaves vulnerable people without a place to sleep safely at night.
- It’s difficult enough for young Canadians with credentials to find employment these days, let alone those who don’t have the resources to pursue education. Due to the pandemic, fewer jobs are available in industries where young people are typically hired, like service positions for restaurants.
- A combination of the above factors makes it harder for a young person to seek an education. Not all students have the resources to participate in at-home learning when schools close (like an Internet connection, a computer, and a place to study). A young person who is homeless has a much tougher time attaining a high school diploma during a pandemic.
- Isolation can have detrimental effects on our health, including poor sleep quality, depression, and impaired immunity. Due to gathering limitations and social distancing measures, it’s difficult for young people to see their friends and family members.
How You Can Help Kids Who Are Struggling
People across the country are in dire straits, but what can you do to lend a helping hand? Here are a few ways to help young people who need it:
Support Your Community
Before COVID-19, you may have donated non-perishable food, hygiene items, and clothing to help those in need. Now, most organizations are encouraging people to donate virtually instead of dropping off items in-person. This is to limit the spread of the virus and reduce contact. You can donate to programs that provide shelter, education, and employment opportunities for at-risk youth.
By donating to a charity or support centre, you can immediately help those who are in need. You can make a one-time contribution or send money every month to a cause of your choosing.
Not everyone has money to give, especially during times like these. But there are still ways to help youths who are homeless. Volunteering allows you to give back to your community and help young people who are going through a challenging time. You can contribute your energy to a good cause. Depending on your skill set or area of concern, you can volunteer by joining a committee or participating in an event. A physically distanced event provides a social outlet for those dealing with isolation.
You can use your social media platforms to bring attention to good causes. Given the hectic world that we live in, not everyone is aware that some people are struggling more than ever right now. Share a few posts that highlight how COVID-19 is impacting young people in difficult positions. Bringing awareness to the issue can encourage more Canadians to support at-risk youth.
Since the global outbreak of COVID-19, many of us have dealt with monumental changes in our day-to-day lives. Young people are having a hard time finding shelter, securing employment, and completing their education in times like these. Social isolation can contribute to mental health issues and greatly decrease one’s quality of life. Canadians can support at-risk youth by donating to organizations and volunteering at support groups.
Veronica Wallace is a blogging enthusiast. Some of her favourite articles can be found on Udynamic’s website. At Udynamics they believe in a holistic approach to healing and recovery from addictions. Their program specializes in providing individuals and families with support through counselling, education, and mentorship.