SUDBURY -- The Community Mobilization Sudbury team has helped close to 900 people since creating a Rapid Mobilization Table back in 2014 and the efforts are far from over.

On Wednesday, community partners came together to celebrate the group's five-year anniversary and to train for the future by reflecting on past success stories.

Over 25 agencies have joined together to identify both situations and residents who are at a high-risk of harm. The community sectors include healthcare, social services and police services, which have regular contact with vulnerable individuals.

Constable Matthew Hall, with Great Sudbury Police Services, has been working with the RMT since 2017 to help address homelessness, mental health and addiction problems.

"It’s been really eye opening to me, just to be able to see what goes on in our community that you wouldn’t necessarily see on a daily basis. The dedicated workers that we have here in Sudbury, when it comes to health care, our addictions counsellors, our social workers… how much they care, how much they go above and beyond to do what they need to do to help out the members in our community."

Hall says it’s common for the police force to interact with people in need and typically officers attend service calls. He adds that the RMT has made it easier to help individuals from the first interaction.  

"It’s not really a police matter. However, we get dispatched or called to these types of calls. We didn’t have the tools in our tool boxes to give these people the services or the help they needed. So, this program is great. We are now able to connect these people to the agencies they need within our community."

Community Mobilization Coordinator Caitlin Germond says there are about 70 tables across the province, including two rural tables in Espanola and Sudbury East. She adds that provincially, the Greater Sudbury area does seem to have a high volume of referrals.

"In the last five years, we have had 875 referrals, so there is that need. There are people out there who require those wraparound services to truly address the risk they’re going through," said Germond.

The RMT meets twice a week to identify situations and people in need. Together they make a plan to connect those at-risk with the services and supports that can help.

"Without having that wraparound support, individuals would have to hop from agency to agency to agency. It was a lot easier to fall through the cracks, maybe get discharged from a service, those types of things. Now, you’ve kind of got this little group of people keeping an eye out,” said Germond.

Gail Spencer, the city's shelters and homelessness centres coordinator, says social services have been involved in over 600 responses over the past five years. She adds that having the partnerships available has made it easier to get people the help they need outside of their immediate services.

"We really felt the burden of having all the pressure of resolving someone’s crisis by ourselves with only the services we had available, but now we’re able to do it in a partnership… in a collaborative way," said Spencer.

She says there are a lot of cases that have stuck out over the past five years, but one in particular comes to mind. A young boy was brought to the RMT by the school board after acting out in class. His mom said she wasn’t able to get him the medication that he needed.

"When we looked into it deeper, the woman was on social assistance, was not able to afford the transportation to get to the specialist appointment, had missed several appointments and was unable to get the child’s medication. She was at risk of homelessness. The family was actually in a lot bigger crisis. We were able to work with mental health supports, the Children’s Aid Society and the school board to provide the family with what they needed,” said Spencer.

Since 2014, the Community Mobilization Sudbury team has grown from eight agencies to over 25 actively-involved community partners. However, Hall says the team still isn’t as well-known as he would like.

"We get it a lot when we go out to do these intervention type of responses: 'why haven’t we heard of you?' And I think we’re Sudbury’s best kept secret," said Hall.

The hope is that the RMT will continue to grow in the future, create even more community partners and reach more people in need.  

To learn more about Community Mobilization Sudbury click here.