Social agencies working together to help those in crisis

Community Mobilization Sudbury includes partners from health, children services, housing, policing

Community Mobilisation Sudbury is doubling the number of people in crisis that it helps

If it takes a village to raise a child, it can also takes a village to help vulnerable citizens regain stability in times of crisis, as people in Sudbury are becoming increasingly aware.

The village approach is embodied in a network of social agencies called Community Mobilization Sudbury (CMS).

This is a partnership of representatives from sectors like health, children’s services, policing, education, housing, mental health and addictions, who work together to help people at risk of harm or harming others.

The group meets twice a week to consider cases that are referred to them.

Stephanie Lefebvre, with the Canadian Mental Health Association, a participating partner, says police refer the most individuals to them. She adds all situations are complicated.

“They have a multitude of risk factors. So we’re looking at things like mental health conditions, addictions — quite frequently — risk of losing their housing, [and those] who have challenges associated with parenting. It could be any number of things and those things combined,” she said.

CMS busier than ever

From data gathered over the four years since CMS began operating, Lefebvre says they typically work with about 115 people each year.

So far this year they have served 50. But Lefebvre expects that number to grow to 200 by the end of the year.

“So on track for almost doubling previous years, which is good. People are using the tool. I don’t think it reflects an increase in the actual risk that’s present in community.” she said.

Lefebvre says she thinks CMS is simply getting a higher profile as its success gets around.

There is one recent case that Lefebvre says sticks out in her memory involving a woman and her family.

“There were nine partner agencies, representing mental health, representing addictions, representing children services, police were part of that response. And it seemed really daunting and quite overwhelming when we thought about the prospect of approaching this woman with nine partner agencies as part of her response.”

Lefebvre says when they knocked on this women’s door, the agency that had the best previous relationship with her started the conversation, and eventually the woman started communicating with the rest of the partners.

Addressing multiple needs

Community Mobilization Sudbury is able to be effective since it addresses multiple needs at once. But Lefebvre says it also helps to save money.

“These are individuals who are all going to come into contact with all of our agencies, down the road,” she said.

CMS began operating in 2014 when there were four other similar partnerships operating in the province. There are now 50 across Ontario.

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