Stories of Community Social Work in Action
Responding to Local Issues
Two residents approached their local CSW to discuss the issue of garbage in the community. The CSW connected the residents with each other and provided information and supports to enable them to collectively organize a series of community clean-ups. This initiative had a number of benefits. First, it addressed the problem of garbage and promoted community pride. Secondly, it demonstrated the power of an engaged, organized and involved community. This is a great example of how residents can take leadership on a social issue that is important to them. Community development works!
Drawing upon the skills of the community and responding to needs identified by residents, a CSW partnered with a resident to deliver online workshops that focused on the needs of the neighbourhood’s marginalized populations. The program taught skills around resume writing, workers’ rights, prepared participants for interviews and helped them to set goals. Participants also received employment coaching and a range of other supports. The program was highly successful. Many residents found employment and 98% of participants reported learning new skills and an increase in their confidence. One resident indicated "this program was so helpful, I made new connections with neighbours, feel more confident and know I will be successful at finding work".
To increase the participation of both Indigenous and Newcomer women in key volunteer leadership roles, a CSW supported the planning and implementation of a number of activities, including a highly successful kick-off event. Acting as a coach, mentor and facilitator, the CSW helped residents identify their strengths and helped improve their cultural and community building skills. While everyone was welcome to attend the online event, volunteer opportunities were designed with newcomer women, Indigenous women, and women experiencing multiple barriers in mind. This and other activities helped develop the capacity of both individuals and the community. The goal was to respond to important local needs and these activities were instrumental in furthering the work of The City’s White Goose Flying Report.
Truth and Reconciliation
A resident approached a CSW to organize a session to help community members learn about Indigenous ways of knowing and culture. The CSW supported the resident to organize all aspects of the workshop, including finding a facilitator, a location and engaging people to attend the workshop. Participants learned about the meaning of drumming in Indigenous culture, songs and how to make a drum. The participants came from different backgrounds including Indigenous people and they were all asked about their learnings. One participant said that a take-away for them was “the importance of listening to the stories of others and what they have gone through.”
Community Economic Development - Neighbourhood Grants
Neighbourhood Grants can help turn local ideas into tangible actions by offering grants of up to $1000 for initiatives that foster Truth and Reconciliation, increase economic participation and build inclusive neighbourhoods. In one community, the local CSW worked with community members to form a multi-neighbourhood grant committee. The goal of this committee was to review grants applications each month and have discussions about initiatives that helped increase social inclusion in the community. The CSW supported the residents to increase their skills and confidence to join the committee. This committee was made of people from different backgrounds and it was an opportunity to create relationships across communities and learn to be open to diverse perspectives. It truly was an inclusive and welcoming group.
Working intentionally with partners at the local Community Hub, the CSW organized a Ladies Night centered around women’s wellness and opportunities for women at the Hub. The market was a chance for local vendors and residents to showcase their skills and talents. A group of women were supported to sell their handmade creations to generate sustainability for their resident led program, as well as build their capacity as leaders in the Hub. Other activities supported physical and mental wellness.
By collaborating together, the partners were able to plan and leverage existing assets and resources within the facility to support women on a multitude of levels. By providing information during the event, participants increased the knowledge of services at the Hub to be able to access supports and resources right in their community.