Council gets an update on Connected Core initiative

Connected Core launched an online tool on Sept. 24 called the Chalmers Bot, a database of information users can access for information on local shelter, food, clothing, housing, employment, drop-in and crisis support.
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It has been three months since the City launched the Connected Core initiative, and council has been provided with an update.
On May 13, council adopted the pilot project as a way of addressing social issues in the downtown core, with its goal being “to create awareness of services currently available in the downtown core, by bringing together community partners and other key stakeholders,” writes Sam  Docherty, program coordinator.
“The aim of the (program) is to connect marginalized individuals to the right services at the right time by providing access to a comprehensive archive of all our community partners and downtown stakeholders. This work has allowed for cross sector connections to be made between the business community, community partners and front line service providers in our downtown core.
“The pilot program “has also provided the opportunity to build empathy, eliminate stigma, improve the downtown climate and create a better sense of community.”
To aid in the effort Connected Core launched an online tool on Sept. 24 called the Chalmers Bot, a database of information users can access for information on local shelter, food, clothing, housing, employment, drop-in and crisis support.
The Bot “is currently available as a stand-alone tool, available to all downtown businesses and community partners. It can also be accessed through the Connected Core website and Barrie Public Library terminals,” writes Docherty.
The Barrie Police Service will be able to use the Bot “for quick access to information, assisting officers in quickly and efficiently supporting those in need.”
Docherty continues that the program has helped downtown owners and staff feel more empowered and secure about working in the downtown core through de-escalation and naloxone training. The creation of a job bank “has supported the creation of opportunities for employment to those furthest from the labour market, aiming to bring them closer to job readiness.”
Community partners – The Gilbert Centre, The David Busby Centre, The Salvation Army, Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness (SCATEH), Rapid Addiction Access Medicine (RAAM) Clinic, and Barrie Police Service – meet monthly to discuss related efforts, such as supporting the centralization of communication, identification of gaps, and further building of programs.
“As the (program) moves forward it has been agreed upon by these partners that Connected Core will move into a coordination role for local outreach services, including the creation of a terms of reference, calendar and communication protocol to support the ongoing implementation of effective, strategic and collaborative outreach services to meet the needs of those most vulnerable,” writes Docherty.
The program, Docherty adds, “aims to connect more people in need with the services offered by our community partners, when and where they need them.”

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