The C5 was founded back in 2015, a result of the vision from five leaders in the social sector who were tired of working in silos and watching their community members try to navigate an increasingly complex patchwork of government and social supports. Following a City of Edmonton lead sector-wide meeting about increasing inter-agency coordination in the social sector, five like-minded leaders from Terra Centre for Teen Parents, Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, Boyle Street Community Services, Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers and Norwood Child & Family Resource Centre gravitated towards each other and began to envision a different way of working for the betterment of the vulnerable children and families that they served. These five leaders saw the clear correlation between a lack of wrap-around supports for families and the number of children requiring child intervention and ending up in the system. In a bid to better support these families, Boyle Street, on behalf of C5, applied for and was successful in creating the Ubuntu program in partnership with Children’s Services.
The Ubuntu CSD (Collaborative Service Delivery) Program, is an innovative approach to child and family support that leverages a network of partner agencies and Children’s Services to create customized support for children, youth, and families in North East Edmonton. The program provides access to the full range of services for all C5 agencies to provide true wrap-around supports for families involved in the child intervention system to help families safely stay together.
The Power of Collaboration
Following the successful partnership on the Ubuntu program, C5 recognized the true power of integrated service delivery, but found that despite collaborating to support families as a whole, they were still requiring vulnerable families to travel to multiple service sites in order to access these supports. They needed to take their collaboration one step further and saw that there was a real community need to establish a collocated facility attached to Ubuntu where families involved with Ubuntu could access as many supports as possible in one place. Whether that be access to employment to financially support their families, child-minding so they could take a parenting course, a space for family visits or just a safe place to build community and feel connected, the North East C5 Community Hub was born.
Working for Reform
As staff from all C5 agencies began to work more closely together to support families holistically at the Hub, key themes began to emerge around systemic issues that prevented families from being successful in moving out of poverty and crisis. In light of this, the C5 leaders saw a clear need to work together on a system-wide level to advocate for policy changes that would better allow frontline workers to support families. By leveraging the collective voices of all five agencies, they were able to facilitate sector-wide conversations and bring the community together around issues such as access to affordable housing, or the need for more mental health supports. For example, the C5 lead the charge on a crucial initiative that helped to reform housing policy to account for larger families and remove the requirement for a criminal record check for those who would previously not qualify for access to subsidized housing.
Tragedy and Increased Need
On May 3rd, 2016, a devastating fire overtook Fort McMurray, forcing the evacuation of thousands, many of whom headed straight for Edmonton in desperate need of everything from clothing to housing to mental health supports and everything in between. Within a few days, C5 mobilized a response at Lister Hall distributing supplies to address basic needs, providing family supports such as housing advice, referrals and one on one therapy/trauma counselling, supports for seniors, child-minding, youth programming, translation services, and coordinating other agencies. When C5 arrived at Lister Hall they found 1100 individuals, 600 families and at least 150 children in need of support. During the total response period, C5 served more than 3,000 evacuees at Lister Hall and MacEwan University. The Fort McMurray response further demonstrated the power of collaboration, and the “roll up your sleeves and get to work” attitude that the C5 are known for.
Success and Expansion
While there was a clear demand for the work of the C5, and outcomes reflected the success of working differently through collaboration, the HUB model was new and different and thus challenging to fund. The C5 was lucky to have some early champions of the C5 vision, such as the Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) and several generous private donors, but stable operational funding was an ongoing challenge. Despite funding challenges, the C5 leadership team refused to give up, wholeheartedly believing in the model and continued to push forward. The everyday success stories of families supported through the Hub motivated them that they were on the right track, and in November 2018 following an impassioned pitch to Edmonton City Council during their budget considerations, the C5 was finally able to obtain ongoing operational funding to run the Hub and support vulnerable families in North East Edmonton.
The Hub further expanded in 2020 when it became a successful proponent in the new provincial Family Resource Network (FRN). As an FRN Hub, the C5 Community Hub provides a range of services and supports that focus on strengthening parenting and caregiving knowledge, social supports, coping and problem-solving skills, access to
community supports and resources, improving child and youth development, and building resiliency and fostering well-being. The Hub further expanded again in 2021 with the creation of the Community Market, and the development of a partnership through the City of Edmonton in the Clareview Recreation Centre to further round out the programs and supports that our community members can access.
To this day, the Hub continues to work day in and day
out to respond to the emerging needs for support and services from our community members, advocate for the issues that matter to those we serve and innovate to solve age-old social problems.
If you want to be a part of the C5 family, please reach out to us if you would like to run a program out of the Hub, volunteer, or donate!