“Working in the YOU kitchen has taught me many transferable skills that I can use at home or in the workplace. They have given me employment when I couldn’t find work and provided me with support with job search. They’ve provided me with a great support network and programs that will help me excel in life and in the workplace. All the staff at YOU has been there to help me when I needed it most and I’d like to thank everyone at YOU for the experience and encouragement they have given me”. Nakasuk
Youth Opportunities Unlimited offers fulsomeness of impact in their community. Their mission, vision and values are reflected in all programs. YOU began with an employment focus and has branched out to include housing and social enterprise.
Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) based in London, ON works with approximately 4,000 youth each year, providing training, skills development, supports and referrals to assist youth in developing their potential and leading positive lives.
Photo: Youth Opportunities Unlimited
The Cornerstone is a renovated three storey heritage building in downtown London. It is home to:
- 28 units of transitional housing for youth
- Youth Action Centre, a multi-service drop in centre
- 2 alternative education classrooms
- YOU Made It Café- a social enterprise
- Rooftoop meeting room available for community use
Impact for youth:
- Efficient access to basic needs, harm reduction supports, affordable housing and a host of other integrated supports
- Increased employment: in-house learning environments provide paid opportunities for youth
- Skills development to enhance success in the labour force
- Linkages to the broader community through supported referrals to agency partners
- Increased self-confidence: youth seeing themselves as directing their own lives and removing barriers to their own success.
- A safe and affordable environment in which to live and explore choices while gaining independence
The affordable housing, alternative education, community partnerships, skills training, employment, mentoring and the social enterprise (YOU Made It Café) could be replicated in another community. Representatives of YOU have, on invitation, spoken at conferences in Scotland and California on the YOU Made It social enterprise model.