Community Response Toolkit Previewed

Community Response Toolkit
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Last October 19th, 2023 the Town of Midland and the County of Simcoe co-hosted a community safety symposium in response to growing concerns about how to best help and co-exist with the growing number of people experiencing homelessness in our community. Midland ranks 3rd in the numbers of people experiencing homelessness in the entire County of 500,000 residents – with 1st and 2nd being Barrie and Orillia.

We had 60 people (residents and service provider stakeholders) attend the symposium and hear more about the challenges, concerns and supports that already exist in our community. The gaps identified were collected through break-out sessions and public feedback in the Q&A forum. The output from this effort has been channeled into two streams.

The first stream is increased funding for services in Midland to serve the North Simcoe community and specifically those who are in Midland to receive those services. The Province increased funding for homelessness prevention and the wrap-around services that are funded through the County of Simcoe. As a result, the County has channeled significantly more funding towards both existing programs and new programs. Examples included expanded funding for the Guesthouse Shelter to allow it to be open 24/7, offer daytime programming, allow for co-located services like Empower Simcoe to resume providing services there and for the shelter to attract more staff, volunteers and retain the ones they have.

New programing includes new youth outreach services provided through Waypoint Centre for Mental Health and new funded indigenous outreach services through BANAC and GBNWA to bolster the good work already in place with the GBNFC that provides mobile outreach and meals.

Connecting to all these programs and for referral, anyone can dial 2-1-1 on their phones. 211 is a free, confidential, national helpline that simplifies finding support and community services for individuals and families.

When you dial 2-1-1, you reach a real person, 24/7, who is highly trained to listen and help. The 2-1-1 phone service offers interpreters in 170 languages. Other service options include:

  • Texting 2-1-1 or accessing Live Chat available Monday to Friday 7am – 9pm
  • TTY service is available through 1-888-340-1001
  • Online search and Live Chat is available at www.infosimcoecounty.ca

The 211 service in Simcoe County is delivered by Community Connection, a professionally accredited information and referral agency located in Collingwood.

A huge win for Midland is the introduction of mobile street engagement teams from One Community Solutions whose workers will be clearly identifiable downtown and be able to engage with those experiencing homelessness who may be at risk, may not be connected to services, need medical referrals or seen to be causing some level of security issues in the core. This “First Response” approach is an alternative to calling OPP for “all matters” and instead has trained staff attend.

In addition a new MVP (motel voucher program) has been funded and launched as well as additional supports as well as data collection requirements into the County’s HIFIS system that will feed daily updates to their service delivery dashboards and help manage the funding of each of these many services while measuring their effectiveness.

The second stream to come from the symposium is the new Community Response Toolkit. This digital document and its associated website give simple and concise “what to do when” and “who to call if” scenarios and answers so that residents and businesses can get the help they need, or that others they witness needing. This document will be released to the public any day now and I will update this page with the link. In addition the Town and County will publish press releases that we will share and promote with the community and our Downtown Midland BIA.

This is all great news for Midland and is a culmination of the hard work of your Council, the many community members who attended the symposium to help inform and identify gaps in the existing services and the County team who are tasked with funding programs and matching the service delivery to needs throughout the County.

We will monitor the effectiveness of these new supports in our community and with your help, keep refining them with the ultimate goal of reducing homelessness in our community.

To learn more about what the County shared with Council at our meeting on Wednesday April 11th 2024, click here to see their slide deck.

2 Comments

  1. That sounds like a great start. Thanks to all for the work to help our most vulnerable and give us the resources to know what to do as individuals as well.

  2. That is wonderful news and a much needed blessing for this town and many others addressing the homeless . It heartbreaking to see people living on the streets in this country. Thank you for this amazing initiative!!

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