Building A Safer Community Through Inclusive Learning
Gender: Mixed (male and female)
Population served: Homeless and/or runaway
Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0
Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention
The project was conceived as a crime prevention initiative that would reduce crime and social disorder in and around the Stanley Milner A. Library, Edmonton (downtown). The premise was that security incidents could be prevented or de-escalated by providing support, referral and early intervention to vulnerable individuals who frequent the library, thereby making the library safer for all users. The project was built on two service pillars: 1) outreach work by professional social workers, and 2) connecting people to relevant library programs and services to empower individuals through literacy, education and skill building.
Building a Safer Community through Inclusive Learning project was a collaborative project between the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) and Boyle Street Community Services (BSCS). The library outreach project was based on a successful evidence-based Library Community Development Model developed by libraries in Halifax and San Francisco.
The main goals of the Building a Safer Community through Inclusive Learning project are to:
- Prevent and reduce crime and social disorder, including assault, vandalism and theft, in and around the Stanley Milner A. Library (Edmonton downtown);
- Reduce disruptive behaviors among individuals in the target population;
- Empower the target population through literacy, education and skill building;
- Provide individuals in the target population with accessible social support within the library and referral to social services in the community; and
- Increase real and perceived safety for all library clients.
The appropriate clientele for the Building a Safer Community through Inclusive Learning project are Edmonton’s at-risk residents who are homeless or temporarily housed and who visit the Stanley A. Milner Library on a daily basis. The Edmonton Public Library (EPL) is the one safe place in their small universe; it is the place they choose to come to when faced with very limited options. These ‘all-day daytime’ visitors often have concurrent mental and physical health concerns, which may be coupled with addictions.
The project proposal envisioned a young (13-30 years) client population requiring extra support to take control of their lives, but in actuality, over half of the clients served by the outreach program were 36-55 years, most of whom have spent many years in unstable lives marked by chronic poverty, mental health issues and addictions.
The Building a Safer Community through Inclusive Learning project was built on two service pillars:
- Outreach work by professional social workers; and
- Connecting people to relevant library programs and services to empower individuals through literacy, education and skill building.
Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:
- Organizational requirements: The Edmonton Public Library is a large organization with sufficient capacity to handle a project of this nature. Outreach workers need support and direction from a social worker/supervisor who understands the work and challenges from a professional social work perspective.
- Partnerships: Edmonton Public Library (EPL) and Boyle Street Community Services (BSCS).
- Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
- Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
- Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.
The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:
- Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
- Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
- SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
- Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.
Gathering Canadian Knowledge
Canadian Implementation Sites
The Building a Safer Community through Inclusive Learning project has been implemented in Edmonton (Alberta) from 2011 to 2014 and funded through the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta. Edmonton Public Library (EPL) Outreach Workers engaged with 1245 individuals and made over 3700 referrals to community social service supports
Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies
No information available.
A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the Building a Safer Community through Inclusive Learning project. The findings from this study have shown the following:
- EPL’s Outreach Worker program creates value for many societal stakeholders, including the visitors themselves, the Edmonton Public Library system, EPL staff, and the general public;
- Value is also created for other public sector organizations such as Alberta Health Services, Edmonton Police Services, Alberta Justice & Solicitor General, and more; and
- The SROI ratio for the Building a Safer Community through Inclusive Learning project is 5.73:1, indicating that for every dollar invested in the program, there is a return of $5.73 of social value created.
Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Building a Safer Community through Inclusive Learning. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/safe-communities-innovation-fund-pilot-project-executive-summaries
For more information on this program, contact:
Edmonton Public Library Board
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
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