Home Horizon operates the Barbara Weider House in Collingwood for homeless youth as well as provide outreach services for the homeless. Their mission is to transform the lives of youth at risk of homelessness by providing them with the opportunity to rebuild their lives and achieve their full potential. These youth are in the process of transitioning into adulthood, and due to challenging circumstances, may not yet have acquired the health, personal, social, coping and life skills that make independent living possible.
The majority of the clients are Mental Wellness service resistant when initially entering the Barbara Weider House, usually for very good reasons. Traditionally, the organization used static counsellors (a pool or one or two, or one that came to the house regularly for all to work with). Frequently clients communicated that they have “felt crazier” after being with these providers or that the counsellor made them feel that their identity choices were wrong. By moving from the traditional model to providing innovative youth-directed services that underscore the idea of “nothing for us, without us”, Home Horizon has seen an uptake in clients willing to access mental health counselling because they have been given control over who they speak with, how and when.
Taking the innovative approach of working collaboratively with the clients and service providers to identify the best resources for them as an individual, the youth get access to tools that help them cope, in a culturally relevant way. By actively seeking services that go beyond hetero-normative or euro-centric standards, Home Horizon is engaging and partnering with service providers who represent an array of diversity and inclusivity for marginalized individuals.
Funding from the Wellness Innovation Fund is supporting Home Horizon to provide this level of autonomy to their clients. Clients gain so much more from the service through this model. Home Horizon can now provide resources to their clients to identify and select what is best for their needs, rather than a “take it or leave it” approach.