HC Link Supports Provincial Legal Aid Clinic’s Community Outreach Efforts
In conversation with: Yedida Zalik, Community Outreach Coordinator
ARCH Disability Law Centre is a specialty community legal clinic dedicated to defending and advancing equality rights of people with disabilities in Ontario. ARCH’s work includes:
- Free summary legal advice and information for people with disabilities around Ontario.
- Representing individuals and disability organizations in litigation.
- Educating people with disabilities on their legal rights.
- Law reform and policy work.
- Community development.
Since 2012, ARCH has benefitted from a number of HC Link services, assisting ARCH to better reach specific populations, such as the Francophone community and community health workers.
ARCH was introduced to HC Link through a free webinar on outreach to Francophone communities. Afterwards, ARCH contacted HC Link for customized support. Over several months, HC Link consultants helped ARCH plan for Francophone engagement and brokered introductions to Francophone organizations. HC Link also delivered a workshop for ARCH staff on providing services to Francophone populations. As a result, ARCH has translated a number of materials, conducted Board and staff recruitment in both official languages, and initiated collaborations with French legal services and other stakeholders.
Other ways that HC Link has helped:
- Provided support to establish a social media presence, including planning, policies and practices. An HC Link consultant delivered a workshop geared specifically to the needs of ARCH and several other community legal clinics with practical tools and templates to help enter the social media world. Now you can follow ARCH, like ARCH, and watch or listen to ARCH videos
- An HC Link consultant reviewed ARCH’s outreach evaluation plan, advising on alignment of methods and outcome measures with current priorities and activities.
- Another opportunity to reach new audiences came when ARCH was selected to deliver one of 16 workshops at HC Link’s 2013 provincial conference. The session provided practical tools for working with clients and communities of persons with disabilities to create inclusive conditions and environments.
"ARCH benefited tremendously from HC Link's excellent services and we are very grateful. So many groups on shoestring budgets do important work related to social determinants of health. None of us could afford to access private consultation to receive the assistance that HC Link provided us."
- Ivana Petricone, Executive Director, ARCH Disability Law Centre
Since working with HC Link, ARCH has…
- Launched on social media. ARCH was concerned with issues of online privacy. HC Link assisted ARCH with a plan to link social media accounts to a webpage called Stay Safe on the Internet. The page gives information about online safety, suggesting steps to protect privacy.
- Collaborated with the Réseau francophone, Connecting Ottawa, Windsor Essex Bilingual Legal Clinic and Your Legal Rights. Francophone survivors of institutional abuse at Ontario residential facilities received information on a time-sensitive claims process. The collaboration provided information in French well ahead of the deadline.
- Built a consortium of community legal clinics to provide legal services to patients of the Family Health Team at St Michael’s Hospital. The Family Health Team assists people who experience multiple barriers accessing legal services. Yet they need legal assistance to address social determinants of health. ARCH recruited Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario, and Neighbourhood Legal Services as partners in setting up on-site legal services for patients. Several other legal clinics have also contributed to this innovative partnership, including: the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Justice for Children and Youth, Injured Workers Consultants, and the Centre francophone de Toronto.
What’s next for ARCH’s community outreach efforts?
- ARCH recently met with members of the disability community, legal and community services, and Aboriginal agencies in Thunder Bay. ARCH will build on these connections to expand outreach in Northwestern Ontario.
- In addition to the St. Michael’s project, ARCH and Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto plan to deliver legal information to urban Aboriginal people with disabilities.
- ARCH is completing consultations on outreach to newcomer and racialized people with disabilities. ARCH will work with community partners to develop relevant resources for these communities.
- This year, ARCH hosted its first social work student placement. ARCH staff have presented a human rights perspective to social work classes. ARCH will foster further relationships with social work faculties.