Dear YouthLine Community,
As we start off the new year, we at Youthline would like to express our appreciation for the support our community continues to show us as we work to support 2SLGBTQ+ youth across Ontario. We would also like to share an important update with you all about our Helpline operations in 2023.
Throughout this past year, our management team, staff, and volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide our community with services and support, connecting with youth all across the province and helping community members access resources to meet their needs. These needs have evolved over the course of the past few years. Living through a pandemic and transitioning to a remote-first service model has been an enlightening experience and we are so proud of everything we’ve accomplished so far.
The feedback we’ve received from our volunteers, as well as our community members, has been invaluable in helping us understand how we can best support our community. We’ve realized that, right now, the need for text and chat based services is at an all time high. There are many reasons for this, including a cultural shift in how 2SLGBTQ+ youth interact with our services and the world at large, as well as changes in youth’s home environments and difficulty accessing community (3rd) spaces.
Additionally, working remotely and living through a pandemic has brought new and unexpected challenges. Taking phone calls in a remote environment can be taxing, especially when dealing with crisis calls, harassment, and isolation that comes from providing peer support without the support of an in-person team. Staffing our phone lines has sometimes proven difficult due to low capacity. Therefore, we want to ensure that we set expectations we can fulfill diligently and within volunteer and staff capacity.
In light of this, we are planning on taking a step back from phone services in order to focus our attention on providing high-quality support using the mediums that are most accessible to our service users and volunteers. Throughout this year, the HelpLine staff team will be working on evaluating, discovering, and refocusing our work so that we can support 2SLGBTQ+ youth across Ontario in the best way possible. We are going to have a full evaluation throughout 2023 regarding the way our service users interact with us. From this, we will understand how best we can meet the community’s needs. We’ll be consulting with our volunteers and the public to identify folks who use phone services and the reasons they prefer them, as well as what types of services and supports are most important to our community. We want to ensure we are being mindful of the needs of our community and our volunteers and it’s important for us to take a step back to do the work that is necessary to understand and evaluate what that looks like in the world we are living in today.
We are excited to find out how we can evolve and adapt to meet your needs and find even more ways to support 2SLGBTQ+ youth across Ontario. It’s been a turbulent few years and we appreciate your patience while we undergo our evaluations. We are doing the best we can and are dedicated to finding better ways to support you in sustainable and meaningful ways. We appreciate your understanding and we welcome your feedback.
We’ll be closing the phone lines as of Monday, February 13, 2023. We know this change in our service may be challenging for the 2SLGBTQ+ youth who rely specifically on our phone support lines. We encourage you to reach out to us via chat, text, and email, as many of you already are. For those of you who prefer to access services using the phone, here are some additional resources that we hope will meet those needs:
We appreciate the continued support from our community as we embark on this journey and we’ll be sure to share with you any updates regarding our services. We appreciate all feedback and we look forward to what’s to come.
For further information, please contact the Board of Directors at firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you have any questions about this closure, please reach out to Minna Frederick, Peer Support Manager, at MinnaF@youthline.ca