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Fort St. John Friendship Society approved for Foundry Centre

Concept offers youth and young adults a place to go and talk
Fort St. John mayor Lori Ackerman in a quiet moment with Minister of Mental Health & Addictions Shiela Malcolmson after the announcement of approval of a Foundry centre for the city.

It's still in the early stages, but Fort St. John's Friendship Society received the news it had hoped from the B.C. government on Tuesday – approval of a Foundry Centre for the community.

Mental health and addictions minister Sheila Malcolmson was in the city to make the in-person announcement.

The centre, open to anyone between the ages of 12 and 24, offers a number of services to youth and young adults including mental health, substance-use support, physical and sexual health care, and social services.

Fort St. John mayor Lori Ackerman believes the concept is vital to the community.

“Children need to get support when they are young. Let's face it, being a parent is not easy and sometime parents may struggle or they're working a lot and you have kids that are struggling,” she said. “This is a place where children can go. It's a caring culture and that professional support is provided to them.”

The Friendship Society, which oversees the city's Friendship Centre, has been actively working towards Tuesday's goal for close to three years.

The next step now, that's it's received approval, is to find a location.

Possible examples could be an existing government building or office space that sits vacant or converting a small warehouse.

It doesn't necessarily mean a new building has to be constructed. That's up to the society to decide, said Malcolmson.

“All the foundries that I have visited have quite a small physical footprint but they have built such a great design. A way that young people can move through the various steps of service.”

“The front entry way is welcoming and bright," Malcolmson continues. “There are peers right there to talk with them before they sign in.”

The centres also provide a unique way for clients to enter their stories digitally, adds the minister. Rather than have them tell their story several different times during the process, they only need to do it once.

“To have services like this available to our kids in the region is going to be so helpful moving forward,” said District of Taylor mayor Rob Fraser, also on hand to hear the news.

“This is about the community and all aspects of potential mental health issues that our children are going through.”

Foundry Fort St. John, as it will be known, is one of four new centres that have or will be announced by the province.

There are already 12 such facilities in place across B.C. - the closest one, right now, is in Prince George.

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