A safety and solidarity net in Mercier-Est
Imagine a neighbourhood where residents have created a large support network to ensure that no one is left behind. This is exactly what has happened in Mercier-Est thanks to the momentum created by its group of Citizen organizers.
Each year, a group of 8 to 10 people are trained on how to connect isolated people with resources in the neighbourhood. Year after year, more Citizen organizers are added to their ranks to create a strong safety and solidarity net within the community.
The presence of Citizen organizers in the neighbourhood encourages mutual support between citizens and fosters a sense of belonging to the community.
Citizen organizers go around to the neighbourhood’s streets, parks, events, businesses, schools, and organizations to meet with other citizens to provide information, referrals or accompaniment to resources to meet their needs, whether to break their isolation, ensure their food security, or solve a problem. Their presence in the neighbourhood encourages mutual support between citizens and fosters a sense of belonging to the community.
A serious commitment
To fulfill their role, Citizen organizers have to take over 550 hours of training in four areas: learning about the neighbourhood and its resources, physical and mental health, abuse issues, and intercultural realities.
The project is spearheaded collectively by a youth agency (PITREM), a family agency (La Maison des familles de Mercier-Est), and a seniors agency (Le Chez-Nous de Mercier-Est). Citizen organizers are therefore an intergenerational and culturally and socioeconomically diverse group of people who reach out to all segments of the population.
As true ambassadors for the neighbourhood, they have integrated this compassionate role into their daily lives and naturally and spontaneously volunteer well beyond their training year. Some have joined the boards of community agencies while others are involved on school councils in the neighbourhood or have become volunteers for neighbourhood organizations and events. They are a source of inspiration for the entire Mercier-Est community.
The Citizen Organizers project received the 2023 Solidaires Citizen Involvement.
This award recognizes the citizen involvement of a citizen or a group of citizens who help advance an issue in the community or mobilize other citizens around a concrete and lasting social initiative.