Posts Tagged ‘healthy community’

Advocacy and family services programs at House of Friendship

November 22, 2012

In my last blog about advocacy at the house of friendship, I talked about advocacy in our residential programs and with our chaplaincy director, Michael Hackbusch. Today I want to talk about advocacy at the community level, with our family programs.

Advocacy work is something the House of Friendship has been focusing on more and more since our last strategic plan. When we developed our current strategic plan last year, over 400 people were consulted and over one third of those consulted were program participants. What we heard over and over was that people wanted House of Friendship to speak up more in the community to target the root causes of poverty. While we’ve been doing advocacy work for a long time, now ‘speaking up’ is actually in our mission statement, so it’s going to be a bigger focus in the next few years.

Though they’ve been quiet about it, our family programs have been doing advocacy since they began. Family programs at the House of Friendship include our four community centres (Chandler Mowat, Courtland Shelley, Kingsdale, and Sunnydale), as well as the camp sponsorship program. To get some background on each community centre, you can read previous blog posts here, here, here, and here.

In a lot of ways, the community centres are advocacy hubs by their very nature—they provide places for people to come together, have fun, and support each other. This sounds abstract but it’s very important; when people are part of a community they have better access to social networks and resources, and can more easily fulfill their needs. Neighbours who care about each other help each other out, and when there’s a serious issue facing the entire neighbourhood, a community that advocates together is much stronger than a single person.

People gather at Sunnydale for food distribution on a Thursday.

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Advocacy with purpose: ‘speaking up’ at the House of Friendship

September 4, 2012

As I talked about in a previous post, at House of Friendship we recently developed a new strategic plan, including a new mission, vision, and values. Of course, any strategic plan is useless if it gathers dust on someone’s shelf, never being read and updated. With that in mind, the next few posts I write will be looking at how our programs are living out and acting upon the new plan, or, in other words, how the plan is shaping House of Friendship programs.

Today I want to focus on a part of our new mission statement, which reads, “House of Friendship strengthens people and communities by being there when needed, speaking up and working together.” In particular, I want to look at how House of Friendship programs are ‘speaking up’ for, or with, program participants. To me, speaking up to affect social change is the definition of advocacy. Of course, this is broad; advocacy can be cultural (changing people’s minds or perceptions of a certain group or issue), or legislative (changing actual governmental policy).

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