Connected Communities in Canada

In response to an invitation from the Wellesley Institute in Toronto, Ontario, Professor David Morris undertook a week-long lecture tour on his research and the work of the Centre for Citizenship and Community on Connected Communities.

The Wellesley Institute is a think tank that works with all levels of government to improve health and health equity in the Greater Toronto area. They are considered leaders in developing health equity through action on the social determinants of health.

The Connected Communities programme was a five-year Big Lottery funded action research study in seven UK sites involving a collaboration between the Centre for Citizenship and Community (CCC) at UCLan, the Royal Society of Arts and the London School of Economics. The final report described the value of the Connected Community approach in revealing a number of community capital ‘dividends’ - wellbeing, economic, citizenship and capacity.

The series of lectures opened with a public lecture with Q & As attended by around 150 people at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michaels Hospital, Toronto.

The second lecture and discussion took place with Toronto and York Region United Way, one of the biggest representatives of the organisation in North America. Aiming to improve the life chances of people in the region through supporting social services and building strong communities, this United Way raises some $100 million dollars a year.

This was followed by a presentation to a city-wide stakeholder event and ‘ideas lab’ hosted by and at the offices of Wellesley Institute itself. The Institute’s current projects include partnerships with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network, Health Quality Ontario and a number of other government bodies.

The final lecture and discussion took place at Toronto Public Health to an audience of public health clinicians and managers and was directed at enabling PHT to think through how, as one of a suite of new interventions to address health and health equity in Toronto, new PH initiative on inclusion could deploy a Connected Communities methodology. A video of this event was produced for educational purposes in Toronto Public Health and across other city health divisions.

Delegates share their expertise
Delegates share their expertise

Professor Morris was delighted to be invited to undertake the lecture tour in Toronto at the Wellesley Institute. He said: “Participants in these events were already familiar with the Connected Communities report and the events invoked a strong interest amongst the agencies in looking at its application in the Toronto public policy context. Since the tour, it has become clear that led by Wellesley, the agencies involved are to consider a major city-wide Connected Communities study and wish to do this in partnership with CCC at UCLan, with CCC being commissioned over time to provide advice and input to the study.”

He has accepted the offer of an Honorary Senior Fellow with Wellesley Institute in order to advance this programme and as the basis for additional advisory roles to the public health initiative.