Proactive approach to community safety

Health, Wellness & Recreation

Photo: Spence Neighbourhood Association (SNA) Executive Director Lin Howes Barr speaks at The Foundation’s Annual Celebration, held Jan. 8 at SNA. SNA received a $75,000 unrestricted grant.
SNA looks to find solutions to problems rather than treat symptoms.

Spence Neighbourhood Association (SNA) takes a proactive approach to mental health, addictions and community safety.

“[These things] maybe mean something different at this neighbourhood level than it would to the wider population,” explains Lin Howes Barr, Executive Director of Spence Neighbourhood Association. “It means getting to know your neighbours and feeling united as a community. It means young people having a place to go, having alternatives to joining gangs or making money in other nefarious means, whether that is access to youth employment or youth recreation.”

SNA, which works with the people of Spence to revitalize and renew their community in a variety of ways, recognizes that drug use is a symptom of a larger societal problem, Howes-Barr notes.

“The pathway to meth use is actually a crisis of social issues. It’s a housing crisis, it’s a being disconnected from your community crisis; those are the starting points. So, when you’re talking about a meth crisis, you’re actually just talking about a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.”

SNA is a recipient of an unrestricted grant from The Winnipeg Foundation, made in response to our community’s recent challenges with mental health, addictions and community safety. The funding came as part of a $5.27 million funding announcement made on Jan. 8.

“We’re thrilled to receive the grant; I think it will be very impactful,” Howes Barr says.

“Further to that point, there were 12 agencies in total on the list and to be encompassed on the same list is quite an honour for us.”

The community work that is done today will improve safety and stability for years to come, Howes Barr says.

“We are really excited to plug some of these funds into some of those more unconventional ways to think about safety but hopefully having this pot of money now, we can effect what safety looks like in our community in five or 10 years or 20 years, because we can change what 12-yearolds…are saying about safety now.”

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This story is featured in the Spring 2020 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.

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