Neighbourhood houses are known as places to connect, volunteer, and become involved in the community. Many people do not realize the important work that neighbourhood houses do to help people feel a sense of belonging.
This is known as social inclusion, and is particularly important when community members are experiencing a challenge or barrier in their lives. When people feel socially isolated, they often experience negative impacts to their health and wellbeing.
At Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, and all neighbourhood houses, our open doors and inclusive programs can make a tremendous difference and help people feel valued and motivated. We are pleased to share some stories from people who have benefitted from ANHBC neighbourhood houses through our collective work on social inclusion. Enjoy!
With a lack of all-ages, safe, sober spaces to meet other LGBTQ2S youth and express one’s identity, it’s easy to feel like the only queer in your community.
This is exactly what Kiko was facing in high school upon moving to a completely new community, feeling isolated and struggling with mental illness at 16 years old. Just as Kiko was beginning to come to terms with their identity, it became harder for them to relate to both straight and cis friends…and harder to express themself.
Around the same time, Kiko was seeking out the volunteer hours needed to graduate and joined the South Surrey/White Rock (SS/WR) Youth Collective–a safe haven for them. In fact, the SS/WR Collective is a diverse group of youth, aged 13-24, who work together to create a safe, sober, inclusive space for youth to connect, create and innovate. This is just what Kiko needed.
A volunteer for three years, and now a staff member at Alexandra Neighbourhood House, Kiko has had the chance to develop and run LGBTQ2S drop-in programs and events, including a Queer Prom attended by youth from across the Fraser Valley.
Not only does Kiko now have a supportive network of queer friends, they serve as an inspiration to others. Kiko has been inspired to continue working in the community to help ensure other LGBTQ2S youth have the same opportunities to connect with each other.