The St. James Town Initiative is currently the Wellesley Institute’s largest community-based participatory research and community capacity building initiative. It builds on many years of service to St. James Town, first through the Wellesley Central Hospital and now through the work of the Wellesley Institute. Over five years, the research component of the initiative focused primarily on neighbourhood factors affecting the health and well-being of immigrants in the St. James Town neighbourhood. The initiative worked with the community to explore how neighbourhood (social, physical, and economic conditions) affects immigrant health and well-being. It applied innovative participatory research methodologies to engage residents and achieve its goals.
Working With The Community
This initiative was a partnership with the local community. People living in St. James Town worked as advisors, participants and staff on the project. An advisory group comprised of neighbourhood residents and community organizations helped to inform the initiative of community needs. Additionally, a resident action group was formed through the initiative whereby individual residents took the lead in identifying important changes needed and organizing actions to make those changes happen.
The initiative pinpointed the features of the St. James Town neighbourhood that affect the health of residents, either by making them healthier or by harming their health and well-being. The goal of the initiative was to help the residents make St. James Town a better and a healthier place to live in. Policy-makers and program planners can use this knowledge to help inform policy changes and new services for immigrants in low-income neighbourhoods, and the community can use this knowledge in thinking about actions they can take to make their neighbourhood a better place for themselves, and their families, to live in.
The Wellesley Institute has also collaborated and worked with a number of the many St. James Town neighbourhood service and residents organizations that address the health, planning and social needs of the local community. These organizations include:
- The many residents of St. James Town
- Community Matters
- Central Neighbourhood House (CNH)
- City of Toronto’s Division of Parks, Forestry and Recreation
- SJT chapter of The Ethiopian Association in Toronto (EAT)
- Sherbourne Health Centre (SHC)
- SJT chapter of Toronto Tamil Seniors’ Association (TTSA)
- St. James Town Festival Committee
- St. James Town Safety Committee
- St. James Town Service Providers Network
- St. James Town Community Centre
- St. James Town Library