Social services are part of the very fabric that holds our society together; especially when things go wrong or life takes a difficult turn. We tend not to think very often about human services until we need them – job loss, long term care, illness, child care – but when we’re in need we count on that safety net being there.
I don’t think can I remember a time when social service organizations didn’t have to struggle to find funding and to keep up with demand. The recession, of course, has magnified the problem and they have had to face shrinking funds coupled with increased demand for services. Clearly our human services sector needs stable support but the eternal question seems to be “Where will the money come from”?
While Fair Share Peel has worked tirelessly to obtain an equitable share of provincial funding for Peel Region there may also be ways to help these organizations to minimize costs and maximize effectiveness. A little creative thinking can often go a long way.
One priority in my mind would be to discuss the possibility of establishing a funding resource team that would research and provide information, on an ongoing basis, about available funding sources and grants, as well as work with the social service agencies to help build capacity in their organizations.
I believe we could also take a good look at where further partnerships, both with other levels of government, and with other agencies, can be created. An example of the latter would be a hub, where several organizations share a common location and administrative resources, to reduce costs.
Social Enterprise could be another option to look at. A Social Enterprise is a business venture with a social mission at heart. We have two successful examples right here in Bolton with Chez Thrift and the ReUstore. The community donates the clothing, furniture, and other items, that are, in turn, sold in the two retail stores, with the proceeds going back into community programs. There may well be other situations where this model would work.
Here’s to creative thinking and collaborative partnerships that make our community stronger!