By Nancy Hofer
City of Courtenay, Environmental Planner
On April 9, 2014, folks in the Comox Valley Region participated in the “From Silos to Systems: Building Partnerships for Healthy Communities” workshop. Hosted by the City of Courtenay and co-facilitated by BC Healthy Communities on behalf of PlanH, this workshop brought together a wide cross section of representatives who are working locally on the various dimensions of public and community health. The topic of building collaborative working relationships clearly resonated with many individuals and sectors; the event was entirely full with many more saying they would have liked to attend.
Discussing holistic responses to complex issues, the group identified a number of areas that could be strengthened to support stronger public and community health outcomes:
- Identifying the Comox Valley Social Planning Society as an established group and forum for working on a wide range of local social planning issues, as well as, the opportunity for incorporating health planning into their annual brown bag sharing lunches and other sessions.
- Considering how the lack of adequate affordable housing is one of the greatest systemic health challenges to the community. Continuing to support collaborative approaches, despite the barriers to action, is seen as critical.
- Advocating to Local Governments to invest in staff time (dedicated position) on social planning as a strategic investment that could leverage and coordinate much of the on-going work.
- Finding ways to jointly apply for grants and spread the work across organizations.
- Bridging holistic health ideas to the momentum of the School Health Planning Process required for all local schools.
- Recommending an on-line government-sanctioned communication hub as an immediate next step and need for the community. Who will lead this and how it will materialize, however, has not yet been determined.
The attendees are delegated to keep the connections alive and to find a way to champion the collaborative ideas that arose in an attempt to orchestrate the many silos out there and to help their colleagues, elected officials and the public understand community health as a holistic system.
For more information about our workshops, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.