Since the launch of the draft "Community Plan in Progress" in May 2013, a wide range of community partners have gathered and are mobilizing to address the economic priorities identified by local women.
"It's exciting to witness groups, governments and individuals stepping up and identifying ways they can make a positive difference," said project manager Michelle Morton.
The Progress Plan is a community planning process to boost the economic well-being of women along the Sunshine Coast. It is an initiative of the Community Resource Centre managed in partnership with Sunshine Coast Community Services Society with three-year funding from the Status of Women Canada.
After completing outreach and community engagement to identify key issues and complete the first draft of a "Community Plan in Progress" (available at www.progressplan.ca), the project is now in an implementation or action phase. Action groups led by the Progress Plan are now underway and are working on improvements in the following areas: care for children, adult care, transportation, income and belonging. The focus is on creating connections between existing agencies, local government and groups who together test strategies and possible solutions. The Progress Plan is using a community development approach to foster partnerships that will benefit women and the overall community in the long term.
Belonging is an overarching theme affecting financial security and well-being. Women who are well connected and who truly feel they "belong" also have access to informal support systems that help meet basic needs such as: care for dependent children, help when ill, transportation and access to information about services, job openings or new business opportunities. Community connections and informal support systems are integral to personal well-being and a strong local economy.
Issues of belonging and inclusion are not always considered when discussing economic development. Feedback that women shared with The Progress Plan has helped to shift the dialogue. Events, like that hosted by Community Futures, The Progress Plan and the Sunshine Coast Credit Union in November also help shift perspective by showcasing Leaders for Change: Caring Leadership for a Strong Local Economy. This sold-out event drew more than 200 people who were inspired by local female entrepreneurs and learned about the concept of "care networking" from Tyze founder and keynote speaker Vickie Cammack.
Watch for an upcoming announcement about how partners are taking action to reduce isolation and promote belonging through better access to information. Updates about child care, adult care, transportation and income related actions will also be provided periodically in upcoming editions of Coast Reporter.
For more information about The Progress Plan, visit www.progressplan.ca (also on Facebook and Twitter) or call the Community Resource Centre at 604-885 4088.