We envision the whole community working on roles and connections specific to our rural place, identifying ways to build a sustainable community where we can all live well, maximize good health and well-being.
The ‘Community Connector’
While not completely unique, TMP niche in the community has been this commitment to reduce vulnerability and support those who may be stressed; need system navigation in the midst of questions and connect people to a whole range of resources. We do this with a paid coordinator, Jennifer Cuffe, who is not a social worker but a skilled ‘community connector’.
The social service world has always known about the powerful function of the ‘connector’ but doesn’t always put this in place in a person centred, consistent, skilful way or imbed it in a local community context. Most often this role today is centralized and housed ‘away’ because its primary function is seen as transactional not interpersonal.
Individual and Family Benefits
The Community Information & Resource Coordination service, or CIRC for short, has been active for 5 years in the community of Tobermory and surrounding Northern Bruce Peninsula. Its activities out of The Meeting Place include providing information, community service referrals using a supportive, face-to-face conversation style approach. Utilization has grown year after year.
The Meeting Place and the CIRC coordinator understand that personal support is a motivating force. With the extension of ‘caring questions’, many folks who are seeking information and resources are also assisted to discuss leisure and recreation options, food security strategies, volunteerism and individual and family self care. Surprisingly, many of these day to day resources are often just around the corner. The kind of help received may set some residents on a course of longer-term change. How people will be involved will depend on their level of engagement.
The service works in conjunction with other social support services such as the Food Bank, church ministers, Peninsula Family Health Team and the Ecumenical Outreach Program who all support the vulnerable segment of our population. With CIRC, the many volunteers in the community have a place to call and refer to when their time and expertise is limited. Residents can also benefit from a resource, hard copy and on-line, called ‘Community Life in Tobermory’.
With the connection to other helping networks, we at The Meeting Place Tobermory and CIRC have been actively looking for opportunities to connect with the larger issues of the community and with our experience we are participating in solution finding. More and more, TMP is identified by others as a valued member in these ‘collaborative clusters’ of activity such as the Food Security Action Group, Bruce Grey Poverty Reduction Task Force, Public Health and Senior’s Safety Network Grey Bruce. So, from small rural roots to county wide initiatives and back again we believe we are helping to mobilize resources and offering leadership. TMP has no core funding; we have been pretty successful in raising funds, but we consider people our main resource.
What is a Community Hub?
It was the ED of United Way Bruce Grey, Francesca Dobbyn who first said several years ago; ‘there is a ‘community hub’ operating at the tip of the Peninsula’ and we have identified with that concept ever since.
“Community hubs provide a central access point for a range of needed health and social services, along with cultural, recreational, and green spaces to nourish community life.
Whether located in a high-density urban neighborhood or an isolated rural community, each hub is as unique as the community it serves and is defined by local needs, services and resources.
Community hubs are gathering places that help communities live, build and grow together.”
from Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework & Action Plan. Author Karen Petrie 2015