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May 2017


Volunteer Halton of Community Development Halton hosted its annual awards breakfast to celebrate the start of National Volunteer Week (April 23-29), as well as to recognize and give thanks to our community volunteers for all their time and efforts dedicated to the Halton community. This event also marked the launch of this year’s Change the World: Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge. Change the World is a youth-led volunteer campaign that encourages high school students to reach out and become actively involved in their community. At this year’s Volunteer Halton Breakfast Awards, three members of the Change the World Youth Council spoke on the importance of giving back and the power of volunteerism. The words of these youth are moving and hopeful. I salute these youths and share their thoughts with you.

Joey Edwardh
Executive Director


Vanshikha Sinha, from White Oaks Secondary School, remarked:

We would like to start off by congratulating all the volunteers present here. All of you are a great inspiration in our community and true examples of what hard work and dedication can result in. For us as teenagers, it is a privilege to be here and to talk about what we our doing in the community and to get other teens like us involved. We are trying our best to take those small steps to achieve something bigger. This is only possible because of all of you. So, to highlight National Volunteer Week, we are inviting youth volunteers to join us in the Change the World campaign.

So, what is Change the World all about? It is an Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge starting during National Volunteer Week and running till June 3rd. The objective of this campaign is to encourage youth between the age of 14-18 to get involved in exciting community initiatives or even provide an opportunity to start their own. Youth are required to volunteer for a minimum of 3 hours over the 6 week time period to become part of the provincial campaign. This campaign is a great way to make a positive impact on the community and develop essentials skills needed throughout life. Our goal this year is to beat the recorded 4,212 students in over 45 community events, which amounted to 19,124 volunteer hours from last year. We continue our mission to change the world.

Piya Mehta, from Oakville Trafalgar High School, shared:

People often underestimate the power of volunteering, and sometimes, the benefits are difficult to see. Volunteering is a way to exercise various skills such as leadership and collaboration as well as adapting to a growth mindset. Volunteering helps enhance skills, like leadership and collaboration, which are very important in life, especially for young people. Learning these skills at a young age are beneficial as you will have many years to learn and improve your skills as you head into adulthood. It does not only help you learn how to be a leader or how to work well with others, but it creates your personality and image. Whether you are helping at a soup kitchen, a food drive or a marathon, it shows the initiative you’ve taken to help and the passion you have to help others.

Volunteering teaches you how to work and share ideas with all sorts of different people which is an essential skill to have. Growth mindsets are expanded when you are exposed to volunteering as well. It makes you see how you can make a positive impact for people while earning nothing but the intangibles; an experience you would want all over again. Before volunteering, you may wonder, “what’s the point if I am not getting my hours or a reward?” Think again, because the rewards you earn are more valuable than anything: a reputation of helping others.

Natasha Rozario, from Oakville Trafalgar High School, expressed:

In an incredibly stressful world that puts pressure on people to be perfect, we often neglect the simple things in life like human interaction and strong relationships. The society that we live in breeds anxiety, and the pressure to succeed can be crippling. Depression, amongst other mental illnesses, is more prevalent today than ever before, affecting individuals at younger and younger ages, as people begin to feel less and less connected to their community. Volunteering is about helping to ensure that people are not stranded alone in their community. Volunteerism ties people together. When everyone has a voice and they feel like they are seen and heard, we promote a real sense of solidarity, which makes us stronger. We rise by lifting others, and one small drop in the bucket creates ripples to reach those lost at sea. Volunteering provides people with a sense of purpose. In the confusing, busy, hustle of life, and by being invested in something greater than ourselves, we are grounded.

Humans are innately social creatures, and evolution has gifted us with the ability to connect to our past and sympathize with each other. The act of giving has been a fundamental part of human civilization since the very beginning, and is a key part of our development as a species and it shapes our humanity.

More powerful than anything are the simple acts of kindness, the small good deeds that are so easily overlooked and have a larger impact than we could ever know. Through volunteering, we can have a little ease of mind as we grow older, knowing that we didn’t just leave the Earth as we found it, but we made it better. Instead of carelessly wandering through life, we make our journey with purpose, not necessarily knowing where we’re going, but knowing why.


We cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can always build our youth for the future.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt


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Produced by Community Development Halton
3350 South Service Roard
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3M6
(905) 632-1975, (905) 878-0955; Fax: (905) 632-0778; E-mail:
office@cdhalton.ca

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April 2017


The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services announced that the Province of Ontario will pilot a Basic Income Program in three areas: Hamilton, Brantford, Brant County; Thunder Bay and surrounding area; and Lindsay. They state that “the purpose of this pilot is to assess whether a basic income can better support vulnerable workers, improve health and education outcomes for people on low income and help ensure that everyone shares in Ontario’s economic growth.”

Almost 70 years ago, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights had articulated that the basis of human dignity and well-being are fundamental human rights. Article 25 states:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself (herself) and of his (her) family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his (her) control.”
(Article 25, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948)

As the Government of Ontario evaluates a Basic Income Pilot, I thought it useful to share a set of principles developed by the Social Planning Network of Ontario against which it should be appraised.

Joey Edwardh
Executive Director

Principles for a Basic Income: An Income Security Policy

It is imperative that income security and all social welfare policy in Canada be grounded in the conviction that it is a shared public responsibility to provide the conditions and supports for all Canadians and residents in our land to live in health and dignity as a matter of fundamental human rights and that strategies, policies and programs that fulfill these rights should be developed and implemented in accordance with the social determinants of health.

Livable Incomes

Everyone needs sufficient income to meet the necessities of living in health and dignity in the community.

Non-conditionality

Public income support must be provided to individuals and families living below the poverty line without other eligibility requirements or conditions related to its use.

Non-Replacement

Basic income payments must not replace, disrupt, or limit access to other essential health and social service benefits and supports, which people on low incomes need to survive and thrive in community.

Augmenting Education and Employment Supports

Individuals receiving a Basic Income must be able to access additional supports to develop and advance their talents and skills through education, employment and other pursuits driven by their own personal initiative.

Sustaining Employment

A Basic Income program must complement, not supplant, a public policy commitment to the creation of good jobs for all, including opportunities for decent work in the community and civic sector.

Wage Protection and Enhancement

Implementation of a Basic Income must have no bearing on the need for an adequate legislated minimum wage that ensures an individual working full-year, full-time escapes poverty nor should it discourage all employers from paying a living wage to their workers based on the cost in their areas for individuals and families to sustain themselves and fully participate in community life.

Gender Lens

Basic Income policies and programs must not indirectly result in compelling women in the household to assume the full burden of caregiving roles for children, elderly or other family members.

Ethical Research Practices

Basic Income recipients or participants in a Basic Income pilot must have their privacy protected; no individual or family should be worse off during or after participating in a pilot study.


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Produced by Community Development Halton
3350 South Service Roard
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3M6
(905) 632-1975, (905) 878-0955; Fax: (905) 632-0778; E-mail:
office@cdhalton.ca

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February 2017


The Premier’s Advisory Group on Community Hubs published their report Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan in August 2015. Although community hubs have been around for decades, momentum surrounding hubs has increased due to Premier Wynne’s interest. Given the importance of the subject, with funding support from Social and Community Services of the Regional Municipality of Halton, Community Development Halton (CDH) embarked on building a broad-based conversation on community hubs. A recently released background document, Community Hubs in Halton, provides the basis of a full discussion on hubs. This Community Dispatch captures some of the important understandings outlined in the document.

Joey Edwardh
Executive Director

Introduction

Community hubs are an alternative approach to delivering services in a holistic manner guided by the principles of community involvement and partnership. Important questions need to be answered such as:

  • How exactly do we define a community hub?
  • What is the purpose of a community hub?
  • Who is better off because of community hubs?

The background document, Community Hubs in Halton, speaks to an understanding and development of hubs within the Halton context. It explores different models of hubs, their characteristics, their role in community, their strengths and weaknesses in supporting planning, service delivery and community infrastructure and, importantly, community well-being. It also reviews experiences in hub development in countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia.

CDH engaged with community agencies, grassroots community-based organizations, and selected community members across Halton’s municipalities, exploring the multiple definitions or understandings of ‘hubs’ and their role in the development of community well-being in Halton. These discussions also assessed the readiness of community to embrace hubs as a model of collaboration and integrated service delivery at the local level, as well as the barriers to hub development in Halton.

Background on Hubs

Community hubs are believed to assist in building cohesive and more resilient communities. In fact, community hubs have the power to bring community members together, assisting them to form new relationships and support networks that did not previously exist. This is facilitated through community-based activities that bring people together and by the fact that community hubs are community-led. Community hubs also hold out the prospect of providing more effective services, since they can be shaped to be responsive to the needs of people in the communities in which they are located, as well as being more easily accessible.

Limitations of and Barriers to Implementing Hubs

Three areas that challenge hub development are:

  • Time for planning
  • Integrated service delivery
  • Community infrastructure and public property

The Australian Hubs Strategy Group has identified additional barriers that can impede the creation of a community hub:

  • Unable to initiate planning processes;
  • Challenges with staffing
  • Collaborating to create a joint vision;
  • Managing multiple partnerships;
  • Managing community expectations once a community hub is established/built;
  • Finding a fit between existing organizations that have their own way of operating;
  • Scepticism;
  • Potential segmentation of roles internally and externally; and
  • Dealing with change.

(Hubs Strategy Group, 2007, 23-24)[1]

Defining a Community Hub

There is no generally accepted definition of a community hub as it is a term that is driven locally and varies in meaning depending on its context. One definition that has resonance is as follows:

A community hub is a conveniently located place that is recognised and valued in the local community as a gathering place for people and an access point for a wide range of community activities, programs, services and events.

Rossiter 2007[2]

Community hubs do not just provide services for the community, but are orchestrated and driven by the community as well. A community hub can also act as a gathering place for local community members to come together to meet, collaborate, and build relationships with each other. Some even identify community hubs as a central meeting point that allows for communities to live, build social capital, and grow. In brief, a community hub is the concentration of various activities and services that are not only accessible to all within the same proximity, but serve the needs of all community members.

Purpose of a Community Hub

A community hub consists of publicly accessible services, spaces, resources, and activities that respond to the ever-changing needs of a community over time. These services are reflective of the community’s self-identified needs and are co-located, integrated, and delivered by the community under nonprofit community-based governance. A review of the literature indicates that community hubs have three primary purposes: community building, service coordination and delivery, and placemaking.

Community Participation and Engagement

The ‘elephant’ in the discussion about community hubs is the need to understand the dynamics and meanings associated with the word ‘community.’ Concepts such as community engagement, community participation and empowerment are rarely defined. What meanings are attributed to these words and how will they influence hub development?

The Halton Perspective

Over the last year, CDH has been engaging leaders from the health, education, and social services sectors in conversations about collaborative work and community hubs. Through these conversations, it has become evident that there is a strong desire to work together, that community hubs are about bringing together community partners who can create synergy and that collaboration and coordination is more important than integration.

As people discussed community hubs and their place in Halton, the language that wove through the conversations contained words such as network weaver, collaboration, partnership, gathering, democratic public space, quality of life, social inclusion, social capital, and synergy. These terms are helpful in framing the emerging conversation on hubs.

Based on the discussions, common themes appeared: that hubs could be those places that provide services to people of all ages and stages of life, that hubs support intergenerational opportunities, that hubs decrease stigma as people from all walks of life interact with each other. There needs to be a holistic approach for community hubs to thrive and hub development requires time, focus, resources, and staffing for community planning. Finally, there was a desire expressed around the creation of a meeting point or roundtable to initiate dialogue among all community actors who are integral to hub development.

The conversations highlighted the following areas that need definition and support. They are:

  • Leadership
  • Financing
  • Neighbourhood hubs
  • Shared spaces in usable spaces
  • Limits to space
  • Shared resources, shared program beyond co-location
  • Hubs as connectors
  • Hubs as knowledge exchange, shared learning
  • Processes
  • Common identified issues

Future Planning: A Journey into Hub Development in Halton

The document turns to how planning processes may be created in Halton that are holistic and recognize the continuum of hubs and the important contribution of each not only to the health and well-being of individuals and families but also, importantly, to a socially cohesive and inclusive Halton.

Activities that are considered necessary to the fulfillment of the steps to the development of hubs are suggested below. They are:

  • understand local needs and demands of community
  • establish a clear vision and mission with the community
  • collaborate, develop partnerships, and build relationships
  • develop strategic objectives
  • develop a ‘business’ [planning pathway] model for hub development
  • secure support and resources
  • acquire assets
  • establish an appropriate governance structure
  • implementation and sustain operations

(My Community 2016, 34; Mulligan 2010, 61)[3],[4]

Future Planning Framework: A Suggestion

As CDH engaged leaders in the human services sector in conversations about collaborative work associated with hub development, it was important to recognize that in Halton there are existing and thriving collaborative initiatives and emerging opportunities. However, there is no overarching planning framework for these developments at the local or regional level but rather, as the Special Advisor noted, multiple planning tables usually organized by field of service (Pitre, 2015). At the same time, there is no interest in a highly controlling and directing planning body for collaborative or community hub development. Planning and development in this area must be a cooperative undertaking for success.

How then to create a local or regional planning framework for community hub development? Perhaps, adapting the “constellation model” proposed by Tonya and Mark Surman (2008) offers some promise.[5] The constellation model refers to a collection of community partners (stewards) committed to a shared purpose that intentionally provides the space and support for smaller groups among their number to self-organize around specific initiatives that are consistent with and reflect the larger shared purpose. The overarching stewardship structure is not highly directive, but provides lightweight governance or oversight to the development of the overall shared concept or purpose. Partners organize themselves into “action-focused work teams” to achieve specific objectives, driven by their own energy and commitment to the task.

How could this approach be adapted to the issue of community hub, or collaborative services in Halton? In this case, the magnetic attractor is the opportunity presented by the provincial government’s interest in and support for community hub development, consistent with the interest and actions of the community and service sector (civic, health, education, and social service organizations). The “shared vision” is to promote and support connected, coordinated service delivery to people and communities, recognizing that this will be most effectively done through partnerships and collaborations rather than highly centralized corporate models. This is particularly true when the hub development is responding to service and social development initiatives at the smaller geographies (neighbourhood) of community. Since there are a variety of different areas involved, marked by distinct organizational cultures and experiences, what is required are “lightweight agreements” to explore hub development in self-selected areas from which all contributing partners (“stewards”) can learn and benefit.

A hub or community hub planning framework for Halton might be pictured as shown below. Organizations and agencies active or interested in hub development come around a table under an agreement to learn together and support each other in hub development and collaborative work. They may commit to hold educational and shared learning sessions from each other’s work, meeting perhaps three to four times a year. Among these “stewards” of community development there will already be some that are partnering in collaborations that may be well developed and that may be able to offer support and guidance to others at earlier stages of development. Others will be organized and evolving and still others just in the formative or emergent stage. Again, participants self-select into these circles of activity. The benefit of creating a space for this range of activity and a table convened regularly to stay connected in common purpose is shared learning, mutual support, and awareness of collaborative activity throughout the region.

As described in the Surman’s paper, it is recommended that an intermediary body not directly involved in any area of direct service would serve as a secretariat to convene the Regional Community Hub Action Network and keep track of and provide updates on hub developments.

Community Hubs Planning Framework diagram

Conclusion

This report establishes that there is not just one universal type of community hub; rather each community hub can be conceptualized, defined, and developed in numerous different ways depending on the needs of the community it serves. A community hub is not only unique, but contains specific resources, programs and a wide variety of social and health services that assists in implementing local and community-based solutions and supports.

The development of a successful and fully integrated community hub requires working at a community level and working with community members and forming local partnerships; a top-down approach cannot be employed. Rather, it is immensely important for the province, as well as local municipalities, to partake in a collaborative approach in the development of a community hub.

A community driven, collaborative, neighbourhood-based approach between government agencies and communities must also be implemented to adequately address the many challenges communities may encounter in the development of a community hub. Community hubs have the power to not only be a solution to ensure that a community’s needs are being met, but also to involve and empower residents, to increase social capital, and to build inclusive and cohesive communities.

The full document, Community Hubs in Halton, can be found on Community Development Halton’s website at http://www.cdhalton.ca/pdf/Community-Hubs-in-Halton-FINAL.pdf.


[1] Hubs Strategy Group. “Setting the hubs humming: Working together for children and their families.” Australia, 2007.

[2] Rossiter, Steve. “Feasibility Study of Community Hubs for the Parramatta Local Government Area – Briefing Paper.” Sydney, 2007. https://www.parracity.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/12851/Community_Hubs_Briefing_Paper_26-09-07_website.pdf

[3] My Community. “Community Hubs: How to set up, run and sustain a community hub to transform local service provision.” 2016. http://mycommunity.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Community-Hubs-FINAL.pdf  

[4] Mulligan, Suzanne. “A Toolkit to Outline the Development of the ‘Hub Model of Integrated Services’ in Halton.” Our Kids Network Halton. Burlington, 2010.

[5] Tonya Surman and Mark Surman (2008). Listening to the stars: the constellation model of collaborative social change. Social Space, pp. 24-29.


  Community Dispatch PDF


Produced by Community Development Halton
3350 South Service Roard
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3M6
(905) 632-1975, (905) 878-0955; Fax: (905) 632-0778; E-mail:
office@cdhalton.ca

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July 2016


Community Development Halton (CDH) and the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) have addressed as core concerns the issues of poverty, inequality and income security. Once again emergent conversations about a basic income or guaranteed income are reverberating across communities. I share with you an opinion piece recently published in the Hamilton Spectator on the impact of basic income on economic and social inclusion. It is written by myself and Peter Clutterbuck, Senior Community Planning Consultant with SPNO.

Joey Edwardh
Executive Director

The Occupy Movement put poverty and income inequality on the public agenda in 2011, and since then public debate on a number of policy fronts has emerged with living and minimum wage campaigns, renewed poverty reduction plans, and a basic income guarantee (BIG) for everyone. On the basic income idea, the Ontario Government has committed to pilot test a “mincome project”.

Reducing both poverty and inequality is a complex undertaking, and creating a coherent policy package out of the mix of proposals under consideration is a daunting challenge. As critical as it is, testing only basic income may discount the importance of other considerations in creating a more equitable, just and inclusive society.

It is best to start with the desirable outcomes of restructuring our social and economic security system. We would argue that these outcomes are security, stability, and dignity for all Canadians. While an adequate basic income guarantee would contribute to these ends, the emphasis on the role of this income transfer to individuals tends to overshadow the critical importance of other pillars of a supportive policy framework.

Certainly, an income guarantee above the poverty line offers a measure of security to individuals and families, especially with respect to having sufficient food and shelter. Ensuring the availability of affordable housing stock, however, will demand additional public policy intervention (e.g. rent control, inclusionary zoning, decent social housing).

Maintaining stability through varying life circumstances (e.g. disability, poor health) and major life stages and transitions (e.g. raising families, moving into the workforce, retraining) require forms of support beyond only an income transfer. Tax supported human services and care produce not only relative stability through our life paths but also social cohesion and inclusion.

Making a universal basic income model the primary form of social protection may risk leaving the provision of essential human services to the marketplace. Would a basic income program just become another convenient route for government to offload its responsibilities for social provision to individuals and families?

In terms of dignity, basic income advocates argue compellingly that a universal income guarantee would eliminate the stigma of means testing. Further, decoupling income from “labour force attachment” will free people up to offer their skills and talents to personally chosen areas of endeavour and contribution to society.

Doubtless true for some, but this reasoning absolves governments from any serious commitment to a strong labour market policy to create decent employment for all in the economy of the future. Many at the margins without education or entrepreneurial inclinations may well end up hovering around the poverty line for their entire lives.

Why not the same public policy guarantees to the meaning and value of work in the construction of human dignity and the creation of a common good? While the traditional economy flags in job creation, there is no lack of work needed to build and strengthen our social and civic infrastructure. Re-balancing our economy from one tilted heavily towards private wealth creation to one of collective stewardship of our human and financial resources offers shared opportunity for all.

We suggest that an Ontario pilot should test more than only the impact of a basic income guarantee. A more flexible experiment focusing on certain population groups rather than on one or two geographic areas could also show how income programs, adaptive human service supports, and employment in the civic and nonprofit sectors might combine in mutually reinforcing ways to respond to the varying life circumstances and conditions of different groups.

How could adequate income support and transitional services make the path from education to the labour force smooth for young people? A Youth Income Benefit for young people would enable “debt free” learning and training supports for transition into work in the new economy.

Given the socially and environmentally useful work to be done, why not guarantee working age adults both training and civic employment at living wages in the non-profit and local public services sectors?

Going further, a pilot could test a flexible mix of income benefits, full and part-time employment options and accommodating individualized service supports for persons with physical, intellectual and mental health conditions. This would engage and liberate a vastly untapped human resource for community benefit.

Testing only basic income models may be short-sighted. A policy package combining income security with stabilizing public services and dignifying work would better reflect a vision of an equitable, inclusive and socially just future for all Canadians.


  Community Dispatch PDF


Produced by Community Development Halton
3350 South Service Road
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3M6
(905) 632-1975, (905) 878-0955; Fax: (905) 632-0778; E-mail:
office@cdhalton.ca