Justice Discernment Project Update
In July, our Justice Animator Karen Koiter provided an update on the progress of Little Trinity’s Justice Initiative starting from when she began her role in January 2023. That update can be found here.
As Karen mentioned, over the summer three main committees from the church conducted research with the help of Yonge Street Mission (YSM). The three areas we focused on were: 1) possible organisations to partner with; 2) maps of census data and local services, including food banks, places of worship, constituency offices, shelters and drop-in centres, health centres, legal services, refugee and newcomer services, and social service agencies; and 3) community surveys of those who live, work, and play in the neighbourhood.
On October 17, the collected results from these three groups were shared in a ‘Sensemaking’ meeting facilitated by YSM, and group members’ responses from that meeting were collected and distilled into a summary report. We are now at the stage of taking what we’ve learned about our community and charting a path ahead: to prayerfully discern opportunities for our congregation to express Kingdom Hospitality in our neighbourhood.
Here’s a summary of the key research processes, findings and takeaways:
- In our internal survey of parishioners, people experiencing social isolation and loneliness was by far the area of highest interest and concern.
- In the neighbourhood survey, when asked what positive role the church could play, “fostering community” was by far the most common response.
- In the 2021 census data, the percentage of one-person households in the area immediately around Little T is 57.9%, compared to Canada-wide at 29.3%. By far the majority of our neighbours live in one or two-person households.
- We see a “Tale of Two Cities”: north of Queen St, the demographics, needs, and services are very different from south of Queen St, with lower income, larger families, and more ethnic diversity north of Queen. South of Queen and in our surrounding neighbourhood, there are very few community services provided.
- There is also concern about affordable food access in our neighbourhood, given the upcoming closure of the No Frills on Front Street.
Key considerations that emerged from the sensemaking session were:
- Our concern for people who are lonely or socially isolated, plus the community’s feedback that the church could be useful for fostering community, may point to an area of service for us.
- Our physical premises (indoors and out) are a huge potential resource, currently mostly untapped except for our own use. What is needed (in terms of staff, volunteering, physical work) to leverage our space, both indoors and out, for the community’s needs?
- YSM’s model of “Jump In, Plug In, Dig In” (volunteering with a partner organisation occasionally; volunteering with a partner organisation regularly; or beginning our own project) gives a framework for thinking about levels of engagement. We noted that the “Tale of Two Cities” scenario lends itself to jumping in or plugging in north of Queen St, and possibly digging in south of Queen St.
These are some of the questions that Karen and the Justice Working Group, in conversation with YSM, are currently working through. We have some promising ideas and leads, along with a lot of questions! We are looking forward to bringing some possibilities to the congregation towards the end of November. Stay tuned!