2SLGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness or living in precarious housing are reconnecting with family and friends, thanks to training offered by the Centre for Sexuality and funded by Calgary Homeless Foundation.
The Centre for Sexuality, a Calgary-based organization that seeks to normalize sexuality and sexual health, has begun delivering Natural Supports Training to a select number of youth-focused, homeless-serving agencies in Calgary, including Distress Centre, Children’s Cottage Society, Trellis Society, Discovery House, Calgary John Howard Society, and The Alex.
The training, funded by Calgary Homeless Foundation, teaches agencies how to foster natural supports—or the relationships between 2SLGBTQ+ youth, their friends, and families—so youth can remain housed. It includes training plan development and professional support to leadership and staff.
“For many 2SLGBTQ+ youth, experiencing rejection from their friends and family is an unfortunate reality,” says Dori Palmiere, Training Centre Team Lead at Centre for Sexuality. “Reducing these behaviours from their natural supports is critical, and often this has meant removing the youth from their natural supports to prevent ongoing rejection.”
She says the natural supports framework encourages staff to work with families in a different way. “We draw on their values and strengths to encourage connection, support, and acceptance of the 2SLGBTQ+ youth in their lives. We’re prioritizing connection as a basic need.”
Patricia Jones, President and CEO, Calgary Homeless Foundation, says, “Our work to guide the fight against homelessness is focused on ensuring that when homelessness is experienced, it is rare, brief and non-recurring—perhaps an episode in someone’s life, but never a condition that defines it,”
She adds: “By funding this training through the Centre for Sexuality, we support homeless-serving agencies in strengthening and reconnecting vulnerable 2SLGBTQ+ youth with natural supports. Together, we prevent or limit 2SLGBTQ+ youths’ experiences of homelessness, connecting them with appropriate housing and supports they need to thrive.”
So far, staff from the Distress Centre have attended the first of three training sessions. The training has been positively received. One participant says, “I liked bringing the training into my real-life work and being encouraged to reflect on the material over a period of time.”
“The reflection process has been important for me and helps keep the information front of mind,” another participant says. “I find myself integrating the principles into my work as a result.”
As of August 26, 2021, there were 101 youth, aged 24 and under, awaiting housing with supports in Calgary. Of those 101 youth, 23 have identified an interest in 2SLGBTQ+ specific supports. The Natural Supports Training is therefore a timely and necessary service for creating a positive, lasting impact on the lives of these youth.
To learn more about the Centre for Sexuality, and their work, visit: www.centreforsexuality.ca.