St. James Town Service Providers’ Network and COVID-19
It has been widely argued that the global COVID-19 pandemic has been a “great equalizer” of sorts in how it has become a shared experience across streets, borders, and oceans. While true, the pandemic has also been a great amplifier of pre-existing inequities, hitting the most socially and economically vulnerable communities the hardest. COVID-19 has brought to the surface the discrepancies that have ailed our neighbourhoods, cities, and countries for generations. And amidst the tragedy, opportunities have arisen to meaningfully address local and systemic shortcomings in a robust manner with a long-term, social justice and public health-oriented outlook.
The St. James Town Service Providers’ Network (SJTSPN) is a collective of diverse agencies focused on service coordination and integration in partnership with the St. James Town community. In lieu of widespread physical distancing protocols, many SJTSPN agencies have been delivering creative solutions to allow accessible services to continue uninterrupted. Meals are being cooked and delivered to home-bound residents and drop-in food programs (including pet food delivery) are actively running. Phone, text, online chat, and video supports, both one-to-one and in groups (and in many languages), are available for mental health and addictions, harm reduction, seniors, newcomers, families, prenatal, and immigration and settlement needs, amongst others. Employment opportunities for personal support workers (PSWs) are on the rise through virtual job fairs and recruitment events. And much more!
Services are being constantly adapted to meet evolving health and social needs, which, under COVID-19, have been changing by the minute. The SJTSPN continues to lead the way in collaborative service innovation, setting an example that we hope can be followed by other communities in Toronto.
For more information, visit www.stjamestown.org/sjtspn
- Robb Johannes, SJTSPN Co-Chair