June 17th, 2024

Coalition of social groups to address SPC meeting

By Lethbridge Herald on June 15, 2023.

Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald

The Cultural and Social Standing Policy Committee of city council today will hear a presentation from The Lethbridge Social Helping Organizations Coalition.

It is one of several presentations on the agenda which also includes ones from Lethbridge Public Library CEO Terra Plato.

The coalition will be presented by Rob Miyashiro, executive director of Lethbridge Seniors Citizens Organization, Ken Kissick of Streets Alive and Maral Kiani Tari of Family Centre.

The City of Lethbridge launched the “Lethbridge Helping Organizations COVID-19 Response” to strengthen collaboration by local groups to serve the needs of residents “and ultimately helped maintain low numbers of COVID-19 cases in the city,” says the presentation.

For effective and efficient communication, 150 people representing 50 city groups joined an online platform called Slack. They included not-for-profit businesses and charities, community-based funders, faith-based organizations, police, City staff, the library and Indigenous organizations.

A Facebook  support page was created in part by the Lethbridge Public Interest Research group which gave 3,000 residents of the city the chance to offer each other help with various things including offering rides and picking up medications. That page also provided daily updates with various information from the COVID-19 leadership group as well as information on key government initiatives.

Wellness checks and the delivery of food hampers to older people were also done.

The presentation says local food programs delivered between 15 and 25 per cent more meals to residents during the pandemic than before it.

“The school system worked with family organizations to provide activity packs and resources for families as well as meal and grocery deliveries where necessary. Several organizations worked together to help homeless people and our low-income population through food deliveries and setting up a clothing and furniture bank,” says the report.

In 2022, the group changed its name to its present one but it has a similar operating model that existed during the pandemic.

The report says the service community’s response to COVID-19 was so strong that it was recognized by the World Health Organization and United Nations on World Cities Day in October, 2020.

“This was the first time that the social organizations in Lethbridge worked this well together, and we have established a long-term sustainable network for community support that can be used for future city planning and response,” says the presentation.

It adds “The City of Lethbridge now knows that community partners and stakeholders can – utilizing an online platform – respond quickly in emergencies and pandemics, and can collaborate effectively to address the needs of its most vulnerable populations.”

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