Community-Based Research and Service User Support

"The life histories obtained from this method can often help to situate the overall data in an emotional context, and aid attempts to affect legislation by providing a clear narrative example for service user support/ program funding". THE VALUE OF RESEARCH: Research and its analysis (and also the methodology, and the theory that it is … Continue reading Community-Based Research and Service User Support

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Talking to strangers & leaving a positive community foot print

While on the train today, a woman - who appeared to be in her eighties -  gingerly glided into the seat beside me. We exchanged a friendly smile, and she offered me a digestive biscuit (I don’t know why they call it that, they are anything but easily digested). I took a piece, and asked … Continue reading Talking to strangers & leaving a positive community foot print

Cultural Competency Training & Service User Support

DECONSTRUCTING CULTURE: Culture is a term that is used - in various ways, by different disciplines - to describe the knowledge, arts, languages, beliefs, customs, rules and collective identities and memories held by an individual or community. Culture is also a term that is often overused, that is politically charged, and whose definition can be … Continue reading Cultural Competency Training & Service User Support

Catching Health in the Workplace

It’s relatively easy to sneeze a cold virus on to a coworker. Spreading great health habits, both personal and professional, however, is a much more complex task in the workplace. There’s no simple and fast way to do it but health is like a cultural virus and the ways that viruses spread can teach us a … Continue reading Catching Health in the Workplace

Creating Organizations that Foster Volunteer Loyalty

The success and relevance of any business almost entirely depends on their ability to cultivate customer loyalty. And, ensuring customer satisfaction at each “organizational touchpoint”  (in-person, phone, email, website, and external media) can lead to customer loyalty; where the customer returns and also tells others about their great customer experience. For-profit organizations invest heavily in the development … Continue reading Creating Organizations that Foster Volunteer Loyalty

Non Profit Sector Work: Leading Yourself Through Change

Constant change has become a day-to-day reality for not for profit organizations. They must adapt to the changing needs and requirements of their stakeholders in areas such as funding and fundraising, community engagement, financial reporting and technology upgrades. The ability to be productive while accommodating multiple changes is a must-have skill for managers, staff and … Continue reading Non Profit Sector Work: Leading Yourself Through Change

Social Determinants of Health: Connecting Self-Care to Access

“The definitive factors in determining whether someone is in good health extend significantly beyond access to care and include the conditions in their life and the conditions of their neighborhoods and communities.”­­ — John Auerbach DECONSTRUCTING SELF-CARE ADVICE: When I speak with my friends – and others – about self-care it often feels like a privileged … Continue reading Social Determinants of Health: Connecting Self-Care to Access

The Value of Community Hubs: Four Reasons to Love Your Local Library

COMMUNITY HUBS SUPPORT COMMUNITY HEALTH: Do you know what a community hub is? You should. Community hubs promote healthy communities. According to the government of Ontario (2010), community hubs “make it easier for local residents to access the health, social, cultural, recreational and other resources they need together in one spot. It can be located in a … Continue reading The Value of Community Hubs: Four Reasons to Love Your Local Library

Peer Support 101: Peer Support Strategies for Surviving College & University

Admission into college, or university, can present opportunities and challenges. Access to education can be a privilege, which can provide a series of life long opportunities and rewards. However, the years leading up to graduation (and sometimes afterwards) can be filled with a series of emotional and financial stressors. These stressors can be compounded by poor … Continue reading Peer Support 101: Peer Support Strategies for Surviving College & University

Peer Support 101: Engaging Outside Your Support Group

Peer support groups provide individuals with a space to address issues and gain support from others who have experienced a similar issue/s (i.e. addictions, depression, diabetes, grief, etc.). However, chance encounters with other peer support members, outside the support group setting, can sometimes create unnecessary discomfort. Outside of the group environment, most members are not always sure … Continue reading Peer Support 101: Engaging Outside Your Support Group

Peer Support 101: Using Peer Support to Tell Your Story

“Being heard meets a deep-seated human need for connection. The simple yet critically important act of being acknowledged, being listened to – truly being heard – changes everything. It changes the person being listened to and therefore everything connected to that person”. Center for Digital Storytelling We hear our first stories at home. We then use these stories to … Continue reading Peer Support 101: Using Peer Support to Tell Your Story

Volunteering is a great way to support your health and community!

Depending on who you speak to, the evolution of volunteering as a vital form of support for those in need - and or marginalized communities - can be viewed as either a good or a bad thing. Or, if you’re more politically inclined, it can be viewed as a bit of both. Regardless of your stance with respect to … Continue reading Volunteering is a great way to support your health and community!

The Toronto Distress Centres Support Social and Mental Health in Ontario

According to the World Health Organization, “an overwhelming majority of people with mental and psycho-social disabilities are living in poverty, poor physical health, and are subject to human rights violations". Also, to add pain to injury, Canada's health care system is extremely hard to navigate; and often times access to appropriate therapy is cost prohibitive. With … Continue reading The Toronto Distress Centres Support Social and Mental Health in Ontario

Making Time For Art: Two Artists Worth Knowing About

All work and no play makes for a very unbalanced life! So, this summer, after work,  I spent my evenings enjoying local art shows, and visiting the ROM and AGO. This made for a very rejuvenating summer. And, according to the Department of Health and Arts Council England publication, 'A Prospectus for Arts and Health' … Continue reading Making Time For Art: Two Artists Worth Knowing About

A New Peer Support Model For Your Self Help ToolKit

I love to source and introduce people to a variety of peer support  models. I am also inspired by the way that certain individuals  – or communities –  will take the best elements from certain models, to create a process that works best for them.  As an example, a late friend of mine was inspired by the work of Harvey … Continue reading A New Peer Support Model For Your Self Help ToolKit

TAVA: A Great Resource For Volunteer Managers in Toronto

“Volunteers are the heartbeat of the charitable and nonprofit sector.” According to Imagine Canada, the “charitable and nonprofit sector contributes an average of 8.1% of total Canadian GDP, more than the retail trade industry and close to the value of the mining, oil and gas extraction industry”. This can be attributed – in no small part – … Continue reading TAVA: A Great Resource For Volunteer Managers in Toronto

Walking In Toronto: Alone Or With A Group

These days we tend to have very sedentary lifestyles. We drive or take public transit to work. While at work, we sit in front of computers for most of the day. Then, we head home to sit in front of our television or computers. And, if we go out we choose to go somewhere to sit  – … Continue reading Walking In Toronto: Alone Or With A Group

Election Day is Approaching: Are You Ready To Vote Canada?

Voting matters! And, just as important as voting is “understanding” who - and what - you are voting for. Before you vote, take some time to find out about all the registered political parties  (i.e. visit their websites, research their political track records, research what causes or policies they are supporting, etc.). Elections Canada tries to make … Continue reading Election Day is Approaching: Are You Ready To Vote Canada?

A History of Labour Day in Canada

For "most" people, Labour Day is a public holiday, which affords us some  downtime to rest and to see our friends/loved ones. And, this is great. However, in addition to the former, it might also benefit us to think of Labour Day as a time to pause and to remember the reason for, and or history … Continue reading A History of Labour Day in Canada

Making Friends in Adulthood

“Living a long life, the conventional wisdom at the time said, depended to a great extent on who we were—that is, our genes. It depended on the decisions we made—on what we chose to eat, and how much we chose to exercise, and how effectively we were treated by the medical system. No one was … Continue reading Making Friends in Adulthood

Recession & Depression: 10 Tips For Supporting Good Mental Health

Global News just reported that the Bank of Canada has cut their key interest rates, as the “economy falls into recession” (July 15, 2015). For those working in mental health (and other helping professions), this is sobering news. Mental health service providers know that this kind of news – and reality – can be devastating to individuals and their families. Quite frequently, … Continue reading Recession & Depression: 10 Tips For Supporting Good Mental Health

They Left Us Everything: A Memoir (Plum Johnson Book Reading)

“EVERYONE IS INTERESTING, AS LONG AS YOU ASK THEM THE RIGHT QUESTIONS" –PLUM JOHNSON Author Plum Johnson won the 2015 RBC Taylor Prize, for her book They Left Us Everything: A Memoir. As the winner of this annual award, which celebrates excellence in Canadian literary non-fiction, she received $25,000. Since receiving this award, Johnson has … Continue reading They Left Us Everything: A Memoir (Plum Johnson Book Reading)

A Local Pottery Studio to Visit

Joan Spears is the much beloved owner of Pleasant Pottery, located in the Eglinton and Mount Pleasant community. She has been working with clay for over 35 years; and yet it has not diminished her pleasure in seeing new forms emerge from a lump of clay. After losing her graphic design job in 1996, Joan … Continue reading A Local Pottery Studio to Visit

Continuing Education: Fostering More Inclusive and LGBTTIQQ2SA Friendly Services

In a diverse Country like Canada (and in an even more diverse city like Toronto), those in the helping professions (health, social service, social justice, etc.) are forever grappling to stay abreast of the needs of their service users. With this, an investment in continuing education provides an opportunity to gain the insights needed, to … Continue reading Continuing Education: Fostering More Inclusive and LGBTTIQQ2SA Friendly Services

Morning Walks: A Healthy Way to Start Your Day

Walking is an easy way to integrate exercise into your life, and to improve your health. However, while evening walks are great, they don’t compare to morning walks. There is nothing quite like a brisk morning walk in nature, to recharge your spirits, and to get you mentally ready for the day ahead. In addition, … Continue reading Morning Walks: A Healthy Way to Start Your Day

Respecting Fashion and the Environment

THE FINANCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF OUR CLOTHES: In 2011 the UK non-profit Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) released their ‘Valuing our clothes’ report, which provided a “look at the financial and environmental aspects of the whole journey of all clothing; from raw material, to manufacture, purchase, use and disposal of our clothes”. On their website, … Continue reading Respecting Fashion and the Environment

Setting Your Life to Music

Music affects us  in deep and beneficial  ways. When we integrate music into our daily life it can enhance a happy moment or help us to muddle through a difficult one. So, it’s a wonder that more people don’t make a conscious effort to find more ways to integrate music into their daily life. Here are three easy ways … Continue reading Setting Your Life to Music

Form Follows Function in the New User Friendly World of Work

REDEFINING WORKING AND THE OFFICE ENVIRONMENT: Form follows function is an architectural  principle that suggests that “the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose”. This principle is being applied more and more in the modern world of work (literally and figuratively, in regards to approaches to … Continue reading Form Follows Function in the New User Friendly World of Work

It’s Okay to Be Lonely and Alone (Sometimes)!

In our competition obsessed culture (in all its forms) it’s becoming harder for anyone to be content — alone or with others. We now consume the perfectly manufactured scenes of happy people on T.V. (which captures fantasy), and on social media (which captures a moment in time). We then assume that life should be comprised of a … Continue reading It’s Okay to Be Lonely and Alone (Sometimes)!