Hello, Huntington Hills! Meet Tina, your registered City of Calgary Community Social Worker, with over twenty years of experience working with children, youth, and those experiencing vulnerabilities in Calgary. In her current role, she brings a high level of energy and passion for social justice, advocacy, and empowering others.
The City of Calgary has community social workers in 23 neighbourhoods, who support residents in identifying social issues and working together to find neighbourhood-based opportunities and community development solutions. In practical terms, they look for ways to lead and contribute to local projects, groups, and initiatives. They seek to enhance partnerships, identify needs, and draw on local resources and assets.
This approach allows for the creation of solutions based on the use of existing community assets and facilities. In Huntington Hills, Tina aspires to collaborate with residents to explore ways for them to contribute to their community through leadership and volunteer opportunities, and by building skills, experiences, and connections. She looks for ways to celebrate diversity and increase a sense of belonging.
When asked about her goals for the role, she explained, “I want to use a dynamic, community development approach to increase social and economic participation. When we bring together our skills, interests, knowledge, and time, we can collectively create the neighbourhood we want to be a part of.” As someone who is committed to learning and evolving, Tina draws from her professional experience and combines her background with new ideas to ensure the best approach when working with individuals and communities.
Between the summer of 2021 and the spring of 2022, the team conducted an initial needs assessment of the Huntington Hills. This consultative process involved residents, service providers, and community groups, with feedback gathered through questionnaires, interviews, and in-person and virtual engagement meetings.
Overall, the process revealed that Huntington Hills is a strong, vibrant, and diverse community with a lot of assets that can be used to strengthen inclusion and belonging for residents. It’s important to note that the assessment took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, which presented unique challenges for carrying out engagement in accordance with local health guidelines. The pandemic also added to the social issues faced by the community and exacerbated existing issues.
In the spirit of collaboration, we’re pleased to share some of the learnings from the assessment. The following themes emerged as being top of mind for Huntington Hills residents:
• Mental Health
• Basic Needs
• Awareness of Community Programs and Services
• Social Isolation • Perceptions of Community Safety
• Indigenous Awareness, Connection, and Truth and Reconciliation
Assessment and community development are both ongoing processes, reflecting the reality that neighbourhoods are always changing. The information gathered and the relationships that were built through the recent assessment can help develop community-led, strengths-based approaches to respond to areas of concern within the neighbourhood.
Community development activities form an essential part of a response to build meaningful inclusion and connections. Following the assessment, a number of initiatives have commenced to respond to the above themes, including among others:
• The Community Safety & Wellbeing Expo held in August to learn from community partners and first responders about safety, isolation, and mental health.
• The Indigenous Learning Series being held from October to January to enable learning about Indigenous history and contemporary issues.
• The Winter Wellness Series held in December to provide opportunities for connection and learning from community members about loss, healing, and financial wellness and participate in activities such as indoor gardening as well as arts and crafts.
In addition, the City of Calgary Neighbourhood Grants Program was recently expanded, with residents of Huntington Hills are now eligible to submit applications.
Please connect with Tina to learn more about the Community Social Worker Program and how to get involved in your neighbourhood at 587-216-8786, or [email protected]. She is also a self-described plant enthusiast and feline fanatic, so feel free to also ask about her passions. Follow her on Facebook for the latest announcements.