It’s my second-last day as the Legal Health Check-Up Worker here at the Legal Clinic of Guelph and Wellington County, and there is a lot to reflect on.
Earlier in the week members of Robert Bosch Stiftung, a German foundation that provides financial support for public health initiatives (among others), visited the Guelph Community Health Centre, where our clinic lives, to learn about the service hub model we’re part of. Among the visitors were educators, health organization executives, journalists, and a mayor. They seemed fascinated, taking photos and collecting pamphlets, while our Executive Director Anthea explained our philosophical and practical approach to our work and our place in the community. It is exciting to be part of something that others admire want to learn from.
One visitor, before leaving, asked our receptionist Jacqueline: why, in a place so wealthy, are there people living on the streets, people using drugs to cope without support? Their incredulity, as Jacqueline and I talked about afterward, was a poignant reminder that we still have much work to accomplish. We (collectively) are all too accustomed to dramatic income and social disparity, so much so that it sometimes takes an outsider’s eye to refocus our attention on its absurdity. Though of course if we listen deeply to insiders, those experiencing the brunt of that inequality, we’ll hear this message loud and clear too.
In a happy twist, the Clinic recently received funding to continue the innovative work of the Legal Health Check-Up project for another year. Jacqueline will soon be moving into the Legal Health Check-Up Worker position as I move on to another project promoting mental health and trauma-informed practice literacy in community legal clinics and social service agencies. We are all excited about what this next phase holds in store. So far we’ve explored and implemented the use of technology to give better access to our services to those in the rural parts of our county. We’ve built solid relationships with tenacious community workers and we’ll be out and about in their spaces more often, meeting clients where they need us to be. We are moving deliberately toward a more holistic and more immediately responsive way of working. It all makes a lot of sense, and I’m optimistic that it will improve access to justice – and by extension to better health – in our community.
I am grateful for the trust, teachings, and dedication of our clients, community partners, and project mentors, and I can’t wait to see where the project goes next!
Happy spring to all of you.
Here’s to new beginnings!