VANCOUVER -- A non-profit organization led by Vancouver youth launched a new program over the weekend to ensure people feel safe in their communities.

The Bolt Safety Society is offering a "Safe Buddies" program, which matches volunteers with seniors, women and anyone else who doesn't feel safe walking home alone. 

The program is in response to recent anti-Asian hate crimes, which have spiked dramatically since the start of the pandemic.

It was also prompted by a recent stalking incident in the city, in which a woman was followed for 40 minutes.

"It's just astounding how all these things are happening so closely and quickly together. We really felt this initiative was necessary," co-founder Vedanshi Vala said.

"Someone that's feeling unsafe can request a 'Safe Buddy' through our website or mobile platform and our volunteers will either be on the phone with them or walk them to their final destination." 

The Bolt Safety Society has about a dozen volunteers for the program so far, but says anyone interested in helping out can sign up on its website