The Social Planning Council of Ottawa builds connections and capacity in the community using a community development approach that brings people and organizations together to take action on common issues and what is important to them.
The Social Planning Council of Ottawa is supporting community responses to the COVID-19 crisis as follows. We are:
- Mobilizing community assets and capacity building for grassroots organizations to address challenges their members are facing and to support the efforts of other groups
- Facilitating information exchange and collaboration at multiple levels, between government, mainstream service providers, grassroot organizations and vulnerable residents
- Ensuring that marginalized and vulnerable groups have access to adequate information and resources, including services that have moved on-line
- Ensuring that information by the Public Health Agency of Canada and local public health agencies is easily understood and shared with community groups and residents
- Supporting and encouraging local initiatives to exchange knowledge and promising practices
- Encouraging pro-active community development responses without duplicating existing services
- Supporting processes for the voices and needs of marginalized groups and those most at risk to be included in city decision-making tables
- Modifying our direct service programs that reduce isolation of seniors to alternate delivery methods that preserve social distancing
Physical Distancing and Isolation
Social distancing is not an accurate term for what we are doing at this challenging time. Health organizations are advocating for Physical Distancing which is not the same as being socially disconnected. It is crucial to physically isolate ourselves and keep our physical distance from one another to reduce the risk of the spread of the Covid19 virus. At the same time, we can and should maintain our sense of community and sense of place. We can be connected while we are physically apart. This is easier for some people than others.
There is a digital divide in our community. The growing gap between the privileged and underprivileged members of society that do not have digital knowledge and competency and have limited access to digital devices and internet. The digital divide intersects with other axes of marginalization such as age, disability, and socioeconomic status. Our difference in technological skills and the level of access to technology and the internet creates a vicious circle and results in more marginalization.
This vicious circle makes a difference in how to stay socially connected while maintaining physically distance. We need to find ways to practice social connectedness now more than ever. Seniors and people with disabilities who might be less tech-savvy will face difficulty in maintaining social ties and are at risk of isolation and loneliness. We can reach out to seniors at-risk by a simple phone call or dropping groceries and medicine at their doors. We will survive this crisis if we have strong social ties and networks.
If you are a community organizer or a service provider trying to help the community during the Covid-19 crisis, we encourage you to reach out to us to share your experiences, challenges, successes, and needs. We will share your stories on our webpage. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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