Learn more about supports that are working to address community violence on youth.
Community PEERS is a community-based, peer initiative that provides a variety of youth services to address the growing youth service needs and impacts as a result of community violence and community violence exposure.
Community PEERS brings a peer approach to community violence prevention and engages communities, youth, frontline workers of youth serving agencies, and/or connects young people to long-term supports. Community PEERS was developed in response to youth violence prevention supports requested from community stakeholders and frontline workers across Toronto.
All Peer Support Workers in Community PEERS have received a certified, 12-week Peer Support Training through The Community Healing Project, have lived experiences of community violence exposure, and practical experiences of working with youth vulnerable to involvement in serious violence and crime.
As a response to emerging healing opportunities for communities, training requests for frontline workers, and mental health/safety needs of communities and young people vulnerable to involvement in violence and/or crime, Community PEERS engages Peer Support Workers to offer violence prevention services to communities.
Peer Support Workers continue to develop their skills and expertise through ongoing coaching, training, and community of practice sessions while engaged in Community PEERS.
Project Prosper aims to provide young people who have been incarcerated for firearm possession related charges with the tools, relationships, opportunities and access to services to support them in having a successful transition back to the community. The ultimate goal is to reduce participants’ risk of involvement in future crime and violence.
Participants work with a Case Worker to identify the issues that they feel would help them create positive change in their lives, and to create a plan of support to address any needs including income, education, legal, employment, health, family, life skills, mentorship and resources for personal development. The Case Worker is intended to be a consistent, caring adult in participants’ lives.
The project was developed based on a research project conducted by Humber College in partnership with Amadeusz, The City of Toronto – Toronto Youth Equity Strategy and the Laidlaw Foundation. The research included interviews with local youth who have been incarcerated for firearm possession charges, as well as national and international evidence on the causes, and solutions for addressing gun violence. The evidence is clear that we must support young people to get the support that can help them make a successful transition back to the community.
Fernie Youth Services provides rehabilitative, community based service for young adults (ages 18-29) who have been referred through Probation & Parole – Toronto Anti-Gangs & Guns Unit. The TYES Support Services program provides case management support to 40-50 youth/young adults annually, through a youth-centred, trauma informed, strength based, holistic and tailored service to meet the individual goals, strengths, needs, circumstances and preferences of each participant.
The Case Managers will develop partnerships with City services and organizations that can support the needs of the client. The Case Managers seek to reduce recidivism and support individuals’ through a holistic approach that considers each person’s overall needs. Participants are supported through a Fernie Case Manager works with participants, and others from the participants support team to complete a Needs Assessment and Service Plan. The Service Plan sets out individualized goals that may include; living in a stable environment, improving relationships with family and positive friends, engaging in school and/or employment, participating in recreational activities, improving physical and mental health, addressing drug any drug or alcohol issues, learning new life skills and addressing their involvement in the criminal justice system.
Restorative Justice is a means to repair harm caused to people, relationships and communities through collective participation in resolutions. Through this program, youth participants will be able to identify issues that cause harm, be exposed to strategies to cope and manage conflicts, understand accountability and actively participate in resolutions
Prior to COVID-19 the Restorative Justice Program was set to run in the Lawrence Heights, Danzig, and Rexdale communities. Lawrence Heights and Danzig Restorative Justice Programs were shut down and deferred to the fall due to COVID-19 and social distancing measures. Rexdale pivoted their engagement to a virtual setting to complete their program during the pandemic. Lawrence Heights and Danzig are currently in the process of re-opening youth spaces to begin in person programming in early October 2020. They will also be prepping for virtual engagement.
The Youth Violence Prevention team at the City of Toronto is currently in the process of adding three more Restorative Justice Programs in Thorncliffe Park, Sparroways and Orton Park.