Working Together for Simcoe Muskoka

Every day, our communities face new and evolving challenges caused by poverty and social exclusion. Despite the incredible work done by frontline charities across Simcoe Muskoka, there are gaps that overwhelm and challenge too many of our most vulnerable.

To address that gap, United Way Simcoe Muskoka is funding six multi-year, cross-sector collaborative projects across our communities. By bringing together partners from all sectors – public, private, faith and charities – we know these projects will be able to not only meet the needs of our most vulnerable but provide a life of increased potential.

It is through these projects that we will drive long-lasting, systemic change throughout Simcoe Muskoka and make a difference for years to come.

These projects started in the fall of 2020, though please note that, due to circumstances caused by COVID-19, the North Simcoe project has been delayed. Take a look at what our communities can expect from these life-changing new projects or click the button below to support one of the Community Collaboratives.

Jump to a Sub-Region

Circles Muskoka

Circles Muskoka brings together the community to support individuals and families living in poverty with enough reason, relationships and resources to thrive. By taking a three-pillar approach to reducing poverty and providing programs for both individuals living in low-income (Leaders) and community members keen to help (Allies), Circles Muskoka enables one-on-one friendships where Allies support Leaders with their goals, skill building, offer support and increased participation in our communities. Leaders also provide Allies with a new perspective and lessons of their own.

This project fosters a community-based initiative that creates relationships across economic boundaries to help move people out of poverty and into one of opportunity.

Sub-Region: Muskoka

Demographics: Individuals living in low-income, unemployed or underemployed, rural and remote residents

Issues Addressed: Employment, job training, social isolation, community navigation, self-esteem and mental health

Partners: YWCA Muskoka, CAP Canada, Faith Baptist Church Huntsville, YMCA Employment Services Huntsville, The Hub Huntsville, Muskoka Community Church

Feather Carriers: Leadership for Life Promotion

Even if you can’t see it, engrained biases and discrimination has caused organizations, companies and services in our communities to be largely unequipped to assist our Indigenous peoples and communities with their unique needs.

Feather Carriers: Leadership for Life Promotion is a trauma-informed and wholistic community mobilization initiative focused on life promotion and suicide prevention. Through this project, training will be offered to frontline organizations to promote culturally appropriate services for Indigenous community members experiencing poverty, and will incorporate diversity and inclusion training. By offering this training and making service providers more inclusive, you can help us save lives.

Sub-Region: Orillia & Area

Demographics: People of Indigenous descent, experiencing or at-risk of poverty, struggling with mental health and addiction

Issues Addressed: Mental health, suicide, social isolation, racism, access to healthcare, healing and wellness, integrating Indigenous knowledge to provide a holistic approach

Partners: CMHA Simcoe County, Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle, Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, Gilbert Centre

Furniture Bank Redwood Park Communities

Furniture is something that many of us take for granted, but a house cannot be a home without these basic necessities. Without a place to call home, your dignity and your social and mental health suffer.

The Furniture Bank diverts used furniture away from landfills to be refurbished and affordably sold to low-income individuals referred through local community partners. Employees will also be low-income individuals who will receive job and skills training to earn a Living Wage at the Furniture Bank. This will help them to improvetheir own situations while restoring dignity those who are now able to furnish their new homes.

Sub-Region: Barrie & Area

Demographics: Low-income and underemployed individuals, individuals transitioning into housing, out of homelessness or fleeing domestic violence

Issues Addressed: Employment, furniture poverty, housing start-up costs, social isolation, environmental waste

Partners: Redwood Park Communities, Furniture Bank Toronto, Furniture Link, Jeff’s Junk, Community Builders, Georgian College

Poverty Interventions Equal Health Interventions

For individuals living in poverty, there is a disconnect between medical services and the social services they rely on. This disconnect leaves a glaring gap in someone’s life that can have devastating consequences.

The Poverty Interventions Equal Health Interventions project fills this gap by creating a cloud-based community Case Management System. This will enable the creation of a Community Assistance Network that allows health and non-health organizations to work together to respond to the urgent needs of South Georgian Bay residents living in poverty and help them move to a healthy life of self-sustainability.

Sub-Region: South Georgian Bay

Demographics: Low-income individuals and families

Issues Addressed: Social isolation, knowledge of and access to community services, overall social and physical health

Partners: YMCA Simcoe Muskoka, 211 Community Connection, Georgian Bay Family Health Team, South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre

YouthCALL Service Link

Transitional-aged youth (TAY) are one of the most under-serviced but highest-risk populations in our communities. As adolescent youth transition to adulthood, they fall into a gap between youth and adult services. For those in need of help, there are few if any services to turn to. Data shows us, though, that transitional-aged youth experience higher rates of mental health challenges and addiction, and LGBTQ+ youth are at increased risk of poverty due to family rejection, social isolation, homelessness, and a lack of education and employment opportunities.

YouthCALL Service Link is a free live-answer helpline assisting young people in Alliston and Bradford who need help planning their path forward. Through a Community Service Navigator, YouthCALL offers accessible, TAY-focused services that will strip away many of the barriers faced by this population and help create a seamless transition to adult services. These services will ensure that TAY residents in South Simcoe will be given the help they need to enter adulthood successfully and leave poverty behind.

Sub-Region: South Simcoe

Demographics: Transitional aged youth and their families, LGBTQ+ youth

Issues Addressed: Social isolation, mental health, addiction, precarious employment, access to housing, transportation, food security

Partners: Catholic Family Services Simcoe County, CMHA York Region & South Simcoe, CONTACT Community Services, New Path Youth and Family Services, Gilbert Centre, Youth Haven

North Simcoe – Stay tuned for news on our upcoming project!