Community Social Work

Community Social Work

The City of Calgary has Community Social Workers in over 20 neighbourhoods across Calgary. Community Social Workers are assigned to neighbourhoods where there is the greatest opportunity to create positive social change with community members.

Community social workers support residents to identify social issues and work together towards neighbourhood-based solutions. They prioritize working with community members who have experienced social and/or economic marginalization. 

Community social workers help residents contribute to their communities through leadership and volunteer opportunities, building individual skills and experience, and by connecting community members.

For community social workers inquiries contact CSWinfo@calgary.ca. Note, community social workers can not provide fair entry letters. Contact 311 for this service. 

Skill Building Workshops

To register email Tannis.Eapen@calgary.ca or call 403-828-8394

Planning Community Meetings

Tuesday, April 5 from 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Are you interested in bringing together a few of your neighbours? Perhaps you are looking for some help with a community project or would like to discuss a community concern. In this workshop you will learn the basics of planning a community meeting.

Register

Facilitation and Note-taking Skills

Tuesday, April 12 from 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Would you like to learn some tips and tricks for facilitating community meetings and creating a record of your meeting? In this workshop we will focus on facilitation and note-taking skills.

Register

Event and Project Planning

Tuesday, April 19 from 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Wondering how to get started with planning your event or project? Come join us to learn the different elements that go into planning a community event or project.

Register

Resourcing Your Project

Tuesday, April 26 from 6:30 – 8 p.m.

All community projects require resources, whether donations of skills, knowledge, time, energy, and/or funding. In this workshop we will explore how to request support from local businesses, apply for local grants, and ensure you have the resources to make your project a success.

Register

Problem Solving

Tuesday, May 3 from 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Have you ever worried that you won't have enough snacks or that none of your volunteers will show up? In this workshop we will discuss some common challenges that may arise as we plan and host community initiatives. Come ready to discuss your project challenges and we'll problem solve together!

Register

Community Development

Using a community development approach, Community Social Workers partner with residents and other stakeholders to identify opportunities for increased social inclusion and economic participation in their neighbourhoods.

Social Inclusion: Neighbourhoods are stronger when everyone has supports and opportunities be included. Through building relationships and working together, community social workers ensure that people who have often been excluded from community life 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 help keep money in people’s pockets.

Community development is based on relationships and often starts with a conversation. Through these conversations Community Social Workers may identify a neighbourhood problem that needs solving, skill or assets in the community, an opportunity to start a project, or other ways to connect people to each other. Community Social Workers can then provide support, connections, resources, and opportunities to turn ideas in actions.

What do Community Social Workers do?

  • Connect community members with one another to increase a sense of belonging for everyone
  • Work with community members to build their awareness on social issues that impact their neighbourhood
  • 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 meaningful volunteer opportunities

Community Hubs

Working with local partners and stakeholders, Community Social Workers look for opportunities to activate and create welcoming and inclusive gathering spaces. The goal is for these community hubs to be incubating spaces for community connections, capacity building opportunities, and places where residents can access services and supports right in their community. Working alongside residents and partners, Community Social Workers identify barriers and opportunities for residents to participate in community life.

This work contributes to the Community Hub Initiative with the goal of supporting residents to increase social inclusion and economic participation, facilitating connections between neighbours and enhancing access to services and supports, and building stronger neighbourhoods.

The Community Hub Initiative started in 2017 as a partnership between United Way of Calgary and Area, The City of Calgary, and Rotary Clubs of Calgary with a five-year plan to activate Hubs in priority neighbourhoods.

In 2022, The City and United Way of Calgary and Area have renewed their commitment to this work. Our refreshed five-year strategy for Community Hubs (2022-2026) aims to deepen impact, partnerships, and sustainability at hub sites.

The hub locations are Bowness Community Association; Sunalta Community Association; The Alex Community Food Centre (Greater Forest Lawn); Bob Bahan Aquatic and Recreation Centre (Greater Forest Lawn); Village Square Leisure Centre, and North of McKnight Community Hub at Genesis Centre.

Lending Library Toolkit

We borrow books and bring them back to the library after we are finished, so why not use the same idea for tools, toys, baby clothes or sports equipment? The lending library toolkit will guide you to set a lending library in your community.

Community Economic Development

Community economic development (CED) is an intervention used by community social workers (CSWs) 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 CSW program. There are specific factors that are considered in community economic development, outlined below:

Employability – CSWs 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 by 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. CSWs 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 – CSWs 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 like 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. CSWs build relationships with local businesses, help to facilitate learning opportunities about community economic development and support marginalized residents to develop and incubate small businesses and other opportunities for supplementary income generation.

Community Economic Development in Action

Matched Savings Programs

What does it look like to take matched savings programs to the neighbourhoods? The CSW program has partnered 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 given the opportunity to practice their coaching skills in the neighbourhood sessions. The CSW program continues to look for funders willing to partner and provide the matching funds for this program. 

Neighourhood Grants

In some neighbourhoods where CSWs are located, a small granting program is created. The rationale for this is some residents have great ideas on how to create community, but may face financial barriers to move from the idea stage to action. The granting program is designed to support resident led initiatives, and up to 1000$ can be requested. Helping guide the applicant is the CSW and a neighbourhood granting advisory committee, comprised of local residents who volunteer their time to support the granting program. 

Neighbourhood Connectors

Neighbourhood Connectors are residents in the neighbourhood that agree to work with their local CSW 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 money 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. 

Food (In)security Programs

Food insecurity is prevalent in many of our neighbourhoods, and always links back to the reality that people do not have enough money to access quality, affordable, and culturally appropriate food. The CSW program works with other organizations to ensure neighbourhood residents have access to programs to support 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 insecurity initiatives offered by the CSW program.

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