Craigwood Youth Services gets $50K from province to upgrade fire safety at Ailsa Craig group homes

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton announced $50,000 from the province to update fire safety at Craigwood's campus near Ailsa Craig. Liny Lamberink/980 CFPL

A mental-health organization that serves young people and their families across southwestern Ontario is getting nearly $50,000 from the province for fire safety upgrades at its residential campus just outside of Ailsa Craig.

Craigwood Youth Service’s facility offers therapeutic and recreational programs, and also has an onsite school. Its executive director, Graham Ashbourne, said the money will be used to replace an old fire escape, to install shatter-resistant windows in spaces that’ve been identified as “high incident areas,” and to get two rooms that currently aren’t being used up to fire safety codes.

“We keep things up as required,” said Ashbourne. “But this will help us then to prevent the ongoing maintenance.”

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Monte McNaughton, the MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and also the province’s Minister of Infrastructure, made the funding announcement Friday morning at Craigwood’s head office in London.

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“This funding, the $49,900, will help upgrade fire safety equipment providing safer places for those who rely on your services. It will also mean you can spend more time helping people, and less time worrying about covering the costs of building repairs,” said McNaughton.

But Ashbourne acknowledged the funding “is not a huge amount” when you think of the service’s needs.

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“It will cover what we’ve targeted it for, but I’m always searching for additional funding,” he said, emphasizing a need for funding for both brick-and-mortar upkeep, but also to continue providing service in the community.

Craigwood has multiple homes on its Ailsa Craig campus, as well as a residence on George Street in London, according to its website. The non-profit organization provides mental-health support to children, youth, and their families through various means, including counselling, day treatment, residential programs, community-based programs and youth justice.

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