Six years ago, non-profits in Edmonton’s social services sector were encouraged by then-mayor Stephen Mandel to explore how they could work differently together—could we reimagine how we serve families, youth, children and seniors in Edmonton? Those conversations initiated a partnership called C5: Collaborating for Change, between five organizations:

  • Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society
  • Boyle Street Community Services
  • Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers
  • Norwood Child and Family Resource Centre
  • Terra Centre for Teen Parents.

Early on, executive directors of the C5 agencies realized that by working together, being proactive and pooling our wisdom and resources, we could make real change. “The same systemic barriers exist across all five agencies,” explains Corinne Saad, Director, C5. “These barriers are access to affordable housing, access to mental health supports and access to services.”

One focus of the C5 collaborative became political advocacy for the populations we serve, while the other focus became integrated service delivery and joint programming.

C5 Highlights of 2018

The C5 North East Hub brings a holistic suite of services to an area of northeast Edmonton that previously had very few services. The hub operated at full capacity throughout the year. It offers the surrounding community and participants from all C5 agencies access to employment services, business development supports, early childhood development programming, affordable housing through Capital Regional Housing, drop-in mental health supports, youth and seniors programming and a computer lab. It also offers a community connection space, which fosters the development of supportive relationships in an informal setting.
Terra played a leadership role in the coordination and implementation of a new program called the Family Table, which offered families eight sessions about healthy eating and active living. The program launched in January 2019, and program participants walked away with healthy recipes, meal planning resources, ways to play together as a family and ideas for healthy lifestyle improvements. The C5 agencies partnered with Alberta Health Services, the Edmonton North Primary Care Network and Candora Society, bringing together the health and social services sectors.

The voice of the C5 agencies, as well as other organizations, helped shift the emphasis of the Alberta Housing Act regulations. New regulations now encourage people to build assets while living in social housing or near market housing, rather than penalize them for having savings or investing in RESPs.

C5 also built broad-based relationships across the political spectrum, knowing 2019 would be an election year, and provided clear messages about the importance of collaboration and access to services for marginalized Edmontonians to politicians and government.

Internally, C5 brought together communities of practice with staff at all levels of each organization to build relationships, leverage work and share best practices and learnings.

“It gives staff the feeling of being part of something bigger and knowing if they can’t meet the needs of someone who walks in, there’s an ally in one of the partner agencies who can help out,” says Corinne.

Terra is so pleased to be modelling what collaboration can accomplish. We will continue to make strides with the other C5 agencies toward our goal of using our collective wisdom to take action and have a big impact for those we serve.

For more information about C5, visit c5edmonton.ca and edmontonnortheasthub.com.

Read More

You’ll find this article and more in our 2018 Community Report, titled Humans of Terra.

The report is a curated collection of stories and photography, which represents the important network of relationships at Terra—between our families, alumni, staff, volunteers, donors and supporters.

Read the full report!