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Halifax-based Laing House extending its reach, opening Yarmouth office

From left: Elisha Stairs, Laing House community development co-ordinator in Yarmouth; Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood; Cole Baillie, youth member of Laing House; Maggie Scott, Laing House peer support worker in Yarmouth; Yarmouth MLA Zach Churchill; HOPE co-ordinator Linda Vickery. On July 10, the HOPE Centre and Laing House teamed up to welcome stakeholders in the field of youth mental illness. The event included a barbecue lunch.
From left: Elisha Stairs, Laing House community development co-ordinator in Yarmouth; Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood; Cole Baillie, youth member of Laing House; Maggie Scott, Laing House peer support worker in Yarmouth; Yarmouth MLA Zach Churchill; HOPE co-ordinator Linda Vickery. On July 10, the HOPE Centre and Laing House teamed up to welcome stakeholders in the field of youth mental illness. The event included a barbecue lunch. - Eric Bourque

Laing House has been doing some work in Yarmouth the past couple of years or so, but the organization is stepping up its presence and activity level here, a spokesperson saying they want to build on the positive things that are happening in this area.

In Halifax, where the organization is based, Laing House is a drop-in centre for young people (16 to 29) living with a mood disorder, psychosis and/or anxiety disorder. Youth have a chance to meet others who have been through similar experiences and they can help each other.

With funding from the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, Laing House is looking to see what it can do for youth mental health in the Yarmouth area.

“We’ve come with our expertise of youth engagement and peer support and mental health, to see how we can support the amazing community organizations that are already here working with youth,” said Hilary Rankin, executive director of the Laing House Association. “We’ve talked to 30 to 40 different organizations who all touch youth programming in some way, and so how can we help support that? That’s kind of where we are.”

In addition to talking to various groups, they spoke to young people themselves – over 200 of them – to find out what they wanted to see in Yarmouth. Municipal officials also were approached, Rankin said, and the response has been great.

In its efforts to get established in Yarmouth, Laing House has worked with the local YMCA.

“We do some of our programs with the YMCA,” Rankin said. “They welcomed us with open arms and let us have a desk for a while.”

Laing House has two local staff members who will be based in the Pier One Complex on Water Street. Elisha Stairs is community development co-ordinator and Maggie Scott is peer support worker.

“We’re in the middle of opening up our (Yarmouth) office,” Rankin said during a July 10 event at the HOPE Centre in Yarmouth. Laing House had partnered with HOPE to host a gathering of local stakeholders, including people who have worked with youth with mental illness and family members of such youth.

Laing House has established a timeline for Yarmouth that has program delivery for youth and families starting in November. Rankin says the idea is to be flexible. As time goes on, if there is a need for something different, they will respond to try to meet that need.

For now, Rankin said, “There’s so much amazing work going on here already. We just want to figure out how can we support that work.”

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