Coalition seeks to improve inner city safety Four new subcommittees formed to address concerns

HAMDI ISSAWI

A coalition of community groups trying to improve inner city safety at the grassroots level has announced the next step of its plan.

On Oct. 20, the Safety Summit Committee met at Alberta Avenue Community League to report its progress since June’s meeting. Among the developments was the introduction of four subcommittees: business, child and youth safety, social issues, and research.

Fatmeh Kalouti, co-chair of the Safety Summit Committee, said the subcommittees were created in response to feedback collected from the last summit when it invited 75 businesses and agencies to share their concerns.

“There’s so many different people that sit at the table and represent the cause,” Kalouti said. “The more diverse the population, the more it’s going to represent the people that we work with and the people that we’re trying to help.”

The committee is made up of representatives from the City of Edmonton and non-profits like REACH Edmonton, an organization focused on crime prevention, and Wicihitowin, an advocacy group for urban aboriginal people.

From left to right: Barbara Ursuliak, Sheldon Hughes, Fatmeh Kalouti, Sgt. Curtis Hoople, and Jan Fox talk about collaborative safety initiatives during the neighbourhood safety panel discussion.| Hamdi Issawi
From left to right: Barbara Ursuliak, Sheldon Hughes, Fatmeh Kalouti, Sgt. Curtis Hoople, and Jan Fox talk about collaborative safety initiatives during the neighbourhood safety panel discussion.| Hamdi Issawi

A problem identified in June is the lack of collaboration between community organizations competing for funding instead of pooling their resources to provide better programs.

As an after-school program coordinator with the Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton, Kalouti, along with representatives of REACH, Wicihitowin, and the City of Edmonton, shared how their organizations have collaborated.

Kalouti and Jan Fox, executive director of REACH, shared their work on the All In for Youth program. The program is a pilot project which, in partnership with Edmonton Public Schools, encourages high school completion by providing before- and after-school programming for students at five city schools.

The initiative joins therapists, nutritional support workers, counsellors, and coordinators to provide students with support that extends beyond the classroom and into the home.

“We work as a team to make sure that each and every kid at the school gets the services that they need to be able to be successful and to graduate,” Kalouti said.

Jordan Robinson, a worker with Wicihitowin youth circle, said he hopes to see a research initiative emerge to identify and address problems like racism.

“You could actually have a quantifiable piece of evidence to base our solutions on because racism is a very subjective problem,” Robinson said.

And he wasn’t alone. The need for research was discussed in June—a need that Kalouti hopes the research subcommittee, joined by University of Alberta researchers, can start working on.

“We’ve worked alongside them to formulate a survey that will be sent to community members,” Kalouti said, and explained they’ll be going door to door to talk to community members about safety and resource needs.

Hamdi is a journalism student at MacEwan University. He cut his teeth as a contributor on Terra Informa, an award-winning, environmental news magazine. He’s also written for The Gateway Online and The Griff. Find Hamdi on Twitter @hamdiissawi.

Header image: Representative from city and community organizations gathered for the second safety summit at Alberta Avenue Community League. | Hamdi Issawi

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