Access and Pathways: Navigating Community Resources in Hamilton

What are the best methods for sharing resources and making connections across social services providers?

Project Description: Everyday, all across the city, many agencies are working to break down barriers for those in financial need. These agencies know that despite their best efforts, breaking the cycle of poverty is a complex and multi layered challenge. The agencies acknowledge that learning about the services of others, working together, developing long lasting partnerships and connecting the right client to the right services is an essential component of the work they do. The City of Hamilton, in partnership with the North Hamilton Community Health Centre, is proposing to connect all those within the city who are working to break the cycle of poverty. The goal is to work collectively to optimize resources that will result in positive outcomes for City of Hamilton residents. NHCHC and City of Hamilton hope to hold an in-person networking, knowledge-sharing and skill-building event that will allow this deeper level of ongoing connection to be developed.

In addition to the in-person event it is recommended that a literature review and environmental scan is completed to ensure that evidence-based practice is being utilized to ensure service providers connect in the most effective ways. The project proposes a collaboration with CityLAB to ensure the best of what is known about making referrals, developing partnerships and connecting clients to services is being used city-wide. The student(s) will be building relationships within the City to inform the project. This is an exciting opportunity, as this engagement piece will be mutually beneficial for the project and the student(s). They will become familiar with the city services and agencies, while gaining an understanding of the challenges that arise for service providers and clients to navigate an altruistic, but ever-changing system.

This proposal seeks to combine the best of in-person networking, knowledge sharing and professional development, with best practices as understood through the literature review and environmental scan. This event will inform the research, through engaging attending agencies, to determine operationally preferred networking strategies. As such, the structured in-person event would act both as a chance for agency representatives to up-skill and connect, but will also allow researchers to learn about what is already taking place at the front line of service delivery.

Finally, with the literature review and environmental scan completed, and the data collected from our in-person event, we hope to determine what may work for Hamilton in the future to better connect agencies and make referrals, better serve clients and move the needle on ending the cycle of poverty in Hamilton.

City Staff:  Rikki Frith, Project Manager - Healthy and Safe Communities


Jennie Vengris - McMaster University

Kate Whalen - McMaster

Department: School of Social Work

Students: Lucas Snell

Course: SW 4DD6 - Field Practicum II

Deliverable(s): A completed literature review/environmental scan that will inform future discussion/decisions on a tangible product or service to address our needs.

Location: City wide

City Strategy Priority: Community Engagement and Participation, Healthy and Safe Communities, Our People and Performance