Community Social Work
Tools and resources
Using a community development approach, Community Social Workers partner with residents and other partners to identify opportunities for increased social inclusion and economic participation in their neighbourhoods.
Community development is based on relationships and often starts with a conversation. These conversations help develop a better understanding of local issues together with access to the strengths, assets and capacity of the neighbourhoods Community Social Workers can then provide support, connections, resources, and opportunities to turn ideas in actions.
Social Inclusion: Neighbourhoods are stronger when everyone has supports and opportunities be included. Through building relationships and working together, community social workers ensure that all people are supported to participate, volunteer, and take on leadership roles in their neighbourhood.
Economic Participation: Increasing economic participation is an important way to increase social inclusion. Community social workers help remove financial barriers to participation and support community activities that will promote increased economic autonomy.
What do Community Social Workers do?
- Connect community members with one another to increase the overall sense of belonging
- Work with community members to build awareness on social issues that impact their neighbourhood
- Draw upon local assets and collaborate with community members to work on initiatives and projects in response to their neighbourhood interests and needs
- Create opportunities for networking, conversation, and skill building
- Support community members to be champions and leaders of their neighbourhoods, by creating leadership training and offering a range of volunteer opportunities
Community economic development is an intervention used by community social workers at The City of Calgary to support the strengthening of economic and social inclusion in neighbourhoods. The “Community Economic Development Neighbourhood Framework” guides The City’s Community Social Work.
Employability – Community Social Workers support residents to increase their employability by providing meaningful volunteer experiences, workshops, developing skills, and training and education opportunities in neighbourhoods.
Policy & Systems – Creating opportunities for people to come together to talk about issues impacting their lives, to learn about social issues and how policy change happens, to develop community action plans and connecting residents with groups advocating for changes.
Economic Capacity of Neighbourhoods – This is the extent to which people, families, community groups and institutions, and businesses work together to meet the needs of those who make the neighbourhood their home. Community Social Workers support projects and initiatives that facilitate connections among the different community members to benefit the economic wellbeing of the neighbourhood as a whole.
Financial Inclusion – Community Social Workers build relationships with residents who are often excluded from mainstream financial institutions and support them in exploring skill-sharing and cost-saving workshops. They build partnerships with community organizations to embed financial empowerment in the neighbourhood through programs such as matched savings, free tax and benefit clinics and financial literacy education.
Vibrant Local Business and Social Enterprise – In a strong neighbourhood, residents support local business and local business supports community. This contributes to complete communities where residents can meet their needs locally. Community Social Workers build relationships with local businesses, help to facilitate learning opportunities about community economic development and support residents to develop and incubate small businesses and other opportunities for supplementary income generation.
Matched Savings Programs
What does it look like to take matched savings programs to the neighbourhoods? The Community Social Work program works with residents to deliver customized matched savings sessions, removing barriers to participation by making the sessions local, accessible, and flexible to meet residents’ needs. Lead residents are supported to take a financial coaching course and are given the opportunity to practice their coaching skills in the neighbourhood sessions. The Community Social Work program continues to look for funders willing to partner and provide the matching funds for this program. For more information, please click here or email CSWinfo@calgary.ca.
A small granting program is created in some neighbourhoods where Community Social Workers are located. The grant helps remove financial barriers for residents with great ideas to move from the idea stage to action. The Neighbourhood Grants program is designed to support resident-led initiatives, and up to $1000 can be requested. The Community Social Workers and a neighbourhood granting advisory committee, comprised of local residents who volunteer their time to support the granting program, guide the applicants.
Neighbourhood Connectors are residents in the neighbourhood that agree to work with their local Community Social Workers to spark and support community initiatives that involve and are supported by, other residents. The Neighbourhood Connector role is supported with leadership training and coaching and receives an honorarium or compensation for their time. This investment in community leadership is part of a larger investment in the local residents to learn, develop and practice the skills associated with being a community leader. For more information, please email CSWinfo@calgary.ca.
Food (In)security Programs
Food insecurity is prevalent in many of Calgary neighbourhoods, and always links back to the reality that people do not have enough resources to access quality, affordable, and culturally appropriate food. The Community Social Work program works with other organizations to ensure neighbourhood residents have access to programs to address this need. Food (in)security conversations, community gardens, cooking programs and collaborating with the food sector on broader systemic policy work are some examples of food (in)security initiatives offered by the Community Social Work program. For more information, please email CSWinfo@calgary.ca.
For more information on the Community Social Work program, or if your community is not listed, please email CSWinfo@calgary.ca.
For more information on local resources, residents can also call 211.
For Fair Entry letters, contact 311.