The City of Surrey is launching two new programs to help steer youth away from the gang lifestyle.
The city received $73,000 from the ministry of public safety and solicitor general, through the Government of Canada’s federal gun and gang violence action fund, to create a ‘Blueprint Pathways’ pilot initiative.
The program is to connect approximately 30 high-risk Surrey youth, between the ages 13 to 19, with an outreach worker.
Surrey community safety manager Brian Asaebo said the outreach worker is to provide “intensive” one-on-one support and mentorship through the 2021-2022 school year.
“Two to three sessions per week, per client. This worker’s role will really be to build a relationship with their clients and work with them through the challenges they might have, whatever that might be,” Asaebo said.
The outreach worker’s role is to help the youth see value in attending school and setting goals for grades and their career path. They will also help the youth stay away from negative peer groups and engage in more pro-social activities, he said.
“Really connecting youth back to the schools but also community resources, rec centres and programming available to them to help insulate them away from engaging in negative behaviours, criminal behaviours and negative peer groups,” Asaebo said.
The City of Surrey’s Mayor’s Task Force on Gang Violence Prevention, published in 2018, outlines action steps to help prevent youth from being involved in the gang lifestyle.
One the “gaps” the document identified is a lack of financial sustainability to extend projects beyond the pilot phase.
Asaebo said the intention is to ask the province for more financial support if the program proves to be a success. If the province declines to offer another grant, Asaebo said he would make the argument that the city fund the project.
“If this single resource is working and we can’t extend grant funding, then perhaps there’s a way for the city to say we can look at the metrics, and if this is something we really need… look at making that, perhaps, a city-funded resource,” Asaebo said.
The Blueprint Pathways project is an extension of the Surrey Wraparound Program, a longstanding youth gang prevention partnership between Surrey Schools, Surrey RCMP and City of Surrey.
The city also announced Thursday that it received a nearly $38,000 civil forfeiture crime prevention and remediation grant from the B.C. ministry of public safety.
The grant is to fund the city’s “Outdoor Connection” program, which is designed to bridge at-risk Surrey youth, ages 12 to 18, to positive recreation activities, leadership opportunities and community resources.
Beginning this month, the program is to run for 13 weeks and offers outdoor youth drop-in activities in Guildford, Fraser Heights, Fleetwood, South Surrey, Cloverdale, Clayton Heights, North Surrey and Newton.
The program, which is to support a healthy transition back to the City of Surrey indoor recreation centres this fall, aims to serve more than 100 youth.