|At the Chalker Place Community
Centre, community leaders like Nancy Thivierge (L) are
working on a community capacity building project on the
health and well-being of children in co-operation with
community facilitator Karen Gray (R) and social work intern
Two fifth-year social work interns are enjoying
unique field placements in community capacity building this
semester. Jennifer Lundrigan is working in St. John’s
on the health and well-being of children and Rosemary Whalen
is working in the Dunville area on a project to bring seniors
out of isolation.
“Both of these placements represent a unique, innovative
approach to social work where the interns are being exposed
to many facets of community development work,” said
Sue Murray, field coordinator for the School of Social Work.
Ms. Lundrigan is working with social worker Karen Gray to
improve services for children and teens living in the Chalker
Place community. The Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Association
donated a house for a community centre, and it now serves
as an activity centre offering everything from teen nights
and art classes to play programs for younger children.
The project is part of a pioneering outreach program to families
and children at risk, led by Dr. Ken Barter, Social Work,
in co-operation with five community agencies and funded by
the National Crime Prevention Centre.
Ms. Gray was hired as the community facilitator for this project
to work with families and link them to available resources.
“Chalker Place is a community with many new Canadian
families and we are working to integrate these families through
the community centre and activities for the children. Any
action must be appropriate and directed by the community.
We know in capacity building that it’s the community
involvement that is critical – they must own the solution.”
As a social work intern, this field placement has given Ms.
Lundrigan the opportunity to interact with people in the community
and become involved in contacting outside agencies to introduce
them to community leaders. For example, she is working to
see if arrangements can be made with students from the College
of the North Atlantic to assist residents of Chalker Place
with their income tax.
Ms. Gray noted that many of the new Canadians living in Chalker
Place come from countries where community is very important.
“We want to give them a sense that the community here
is supporting them and sharing with them.”
In Dunville, Rosemary Whalen is also working on a community
capacity building project, but her focus is seniors. Living
in Branch, she knows just how difficult it can be for a senior
to access a service an hour away in Placentia.
“I set out to identify all the different organizations
in the area and connect isolated seniors with relevant organizations”
she said. “I started by talking to the RCMP, community
health nursing and mental health counselling and asked them
to include some questions in their assessments to identify
organizations and key players who could be involved in providing
services to seniors.”
A useful service could be as simple as a weekly visit to a
lonely senior. Another area Ms. Whalen is researching is the
funding opportunities available to seniors and how they could
be assisted in making applications for available funding.
The end result of Ms. Whalen’s work will be a proposal
to the Avalon Gateway Regional Economic Development Board
for a one-day Seniors Resource Conference to bring together
all the key players and fundraising organizations.
Ms. Whalen’s supervisor is social worker Priscilla Corcoran
Mooney, the community mobilization leader for the Rural Secretariat-Avalon
Region. “Social development needs to focus more on older
adults and Rosemary’s project will do this by finding
ways to bring seniors out of isolation.”
From Ms. Whalen’s point of view the field placement
has been a resounding success. “It’s included
community capacity building and put me in touch with the person
and the environment. I really loved it.”
Back at the School of Social Work, Sue Murray is delighted
that these non-traditional social work placements have been
successful. “They demonstrate the diversity of social