RaY operates as a “one stop shop,” providing wrap-around services for youth in need. It is a single place where street-entrenched and marginalized youth can access everything they need, on their terms, to better their lives. With a key focus on the Social Determinants of Health, this fully-integrated service model was one of the first of its kind in Manitoba.

Low barrier, integrated services

RaY breaks down accessibility barriers. A no-wrong-door policy means that staff help youth system navigate and find the supports they need, without the need to show ID. Most importantly, RaY is non-judgmental and provides a safe space for youth to access services.

Four pillars for ending youth homelessness

Based on the findings in Here and Now: The Winnipeg Plan to End Youth Homelessness (2015), RaY uses four pillars to guide our work towards giving youth a better life: respond to immediate needs; address youth homelessness; improve health and wellbeing; and build skills for success. This holistic approach helps youth improve all areas of their lives that contribute to housing security and wellbeing.

From dependence to inter-dependence

Our goal is to move youth from a place of dependence on services, to being able to take care of themselves, to becoming powerful advocates who can give back to their communities and help others. This process is not always linear and RaY supports youth at all stages of their journey.

Harm Reduction

Harm reduction ensures that youth who do not want to, or feel they cannot, abstain from drug use are met on their terms and are provided with strategies to engage in safer practices; such as not sharing needles or exchanging sex for drugs. If youth understand the benefits of these safer practices, they may be further motivated to reduce overall drug use (Kidd et al, 2018). Here are examples of harm reduction interventions that can help reduce the risk of transmitting blood-borne infections, as well as other harms associated with drug use among street involved youth:

  • Methadone Programs
  • Syringe exchange programs
  • Safe injection sites
  • Education and outreach

We believe that harm reduction is critical for the wellbeing of youth, resulting in building strong, trusting relationships with youth on the streets.

Kidd, S., Slesnick, N., Frederick, T., Karabanow, J., Gaetz, S. (2018). Mental Health and Addiction Interventions for Youth Experiencing Homelessness: Practical Strategies for Front-line Providers. Toronto: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press.


Non-judgmental care means that our staff does not judge the situations of others while delivering services in an accepting, genuine, and empathetic way. RaY staff works to develop trusting and respectful relationships with participants. As youth who experience homelessness or street entrenchment face numerous challenges that can lead to personal vulnerability, unsafe or unhealthy decision making, providing non-judgmental care is essential to helping promote an individual’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. The relationships between staff and participants is built upon a foundation which allows the participant to speak openly and honestly about their circumstances, making the service delivery responses work to help promote self-dignity, respect, and ensure the participant feels safe and supported the entire way.

Trauma Responsive

Trauma Response allows participants to work through different phases of their trauma and/or substance use by adapting the environment to establish a sense of physical and emotional safety in individuals. Trauma responsiveness anticipates that our participants have experienced trauma and seeks to implement strengths-based interventions that will support each individual’s recovery. Through pro-active recognition of trauma related challenges, this approach shifts the intervention parameters from trauma informed to trauma responsive and is adopted throughout the entire agency.

Culturally Competent, Safe and Informed

Cultural competence is defined as “the process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively of all cultures, languages, classes, races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, spiritual traditions, immigration status, and other diversity factors in a manner than recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, ad communities” (National Association of Social Workers, p.13). Culturally safe and informed service delivery means that our staff will provide care to all diverse communities in such a way that is cognisant and respectful of the dynamic components of culture. Further building upon the integration of culturally competent service delivery responses, cultural safety and culturally informed interventions reflect upon the unequal distribution of power and accessibility to social services by acknowledging the barriers for individuals and communities strictly built upon cultural discrimination. Our staff are trained to provide service delivery with a reflective lens that seeks to implement care that is culturally appropriate and safe and seeks to deconstruct stereotypes, discrimination, and biases that often impede equal and equitable care.

Understanding that homelessness disproportionately impacts Indigenous youth in Winnipeg, RaY is committed to honouring the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We are dedicated to learning, healing, and collaboration whilst we strive to provide culturally appropriate programming for all youth in a safe environment.

National Association of Social Workers. (2015). Standards and Indicators for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice. National Association of Social Work, 1-55. Retrieved March 17, 2021, from

Make a donation today and help RaY provide resources to Winnipeg’s street youth.