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Resource centres having an impact: report

Study examined six centres at Manitobna Housing complexes across the city

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Tammy Wilson has lived in the Manitoba Housing complex on Mayfair Avenue for eight years.


Four years ago, the Mayfair Family Resource Centre was established for the Fort Rouge-based  community to help meet the needs of individuals like Wilson, their families and the community.


Wilson said the impact has been phenomenal.


Residents have a place to go when they need to solve conflicts, she said, while the programming allows residents to get to know each other — creating a safer community.


"It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the centre," Wilson said.


The centre is one of six run by the non-profit Family Centre of Winnipeg at various Manitoba Housing sites across the city —   including Mayfair, Woodydell and St. Anne’s in St. Vital, Doncaster Way in Tuxedo, Westgrove Way in Charleswood, and Plessis Road in Transcona.


Now — 10 years after the original family centre was opened at Woodydell — a new report has confirmed the anecdotal evidence that the centres are making a difference.


The report, published by the Manitoba office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, was officially released at the Woodydell site last week.


Report author Sarah Cooper said interviews with residents — conducted by community members, including Wilson — showed the six centres play a variety of roles.


"The resource centres meet some very basic needs here, and that’s what residents started out by telling us," Cooper said.


The centres have phone lines, fax machines, and computers, for example, and also offer programs to help residents access food.


But the programming and social interaction provided by the centres also help adults and children build better self-esteem and confidence, develop a sense of accomplishment and pride in their neighbourhoods, and create safer environments.


"The resource centres seem to be a really good model for supporting the communities, and could probably support other communities, too," she said.


Maureen Barchyn, the centre’s program director of in-home family support and family education, said involving residents has been an important contributor to the facility’s success.


At Plessis, for example, residents where concerned about children getting to school safely, so the centre created a walking school bus.


And in Westgrove, the centre established an adult literacy program at the request of residents wanting to improve their reading and writing.


Barchyn said the report affirmed her sense the resource centres are making a difference.


"I’ve been convinced for a really long time that this model is successful," she said.


To read the report, visit http://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/manitoba.

arielle.godbout@canstarnews.com

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