BETWEEN October 2020 and March 2021, the Surrey Anti-Gang Family Empowerment (SAFE) program connected 633 new child and youth clients to services that reduce risk for gang involvement. Despite having to work around pandemic restrictions, SAFE saw a 31-per-cent increase in new participants during this period when compared with the same period from the previous year.
“In just a little more than two years, the SAFE program has established itself as an integral resource in our communities,” said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum on Monday. “The program’s growth is a testament to the reach and impact of SAFE. I want to thank all of our partners for the work they have done this past year, especially in light of the ongoing pandemic. As a result of their collective efforts, SAFE is making a difference in keeping youth out of gangs and positively engaged with their community.”
The $7.5 million five-year program, which launched in January 2019, is funded by Public Safety Canada and led by the City of Surrey. It comprises 10 community partners and delivers 11 early intervention programs designed to keep children and youth out of gangs while helping them build positive life skills and increase connections with family, school and community.
SAFE services include youth outreach and mentorship, caregiver education and family support, clinical counselling, and opportunities for youth enterprising and peer leadership.
As of the end of March 2021, SAFE has served 2,128 children and youth, and 320 parents and caregivers. Of the youth clients, 269 were accepted via the Children and Youth At-Risk Table (CHART) which involves professionals from 15 partner agencies meeting weekly to implement tailored multi-agency intervention plans for each young person and their family.
As an enhancement to the SAFE Program, on April 6, 2021, the City of Surrey launched empowersurrey.ca, a website dedicated to educating parents, caregivers and trusted adults about the local gang landscape and how to address risk factors and warning signs for gang involvement. Website content was informed by over 100 Surrey youth and subject matter experts from 14 external agencies including law enforcement.
SAFE program partners include: City of Surrey, DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), Options Community Services Society, Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS), Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS), Surrey RCMP, Simon Fraser University (SFU), Solid State Community Industries and Surrey Schools.