Research invites local residents to share pandemic experiences, help inform recovery
COVID-19 has had serious and potentially long-lasting impacts on communities. While the recovery will be long and difficult for everyone, small and rural communities face particular challenges. Research by the University of Guelph (U of G), supported by United Way Perth-Huron’s Social Research and Planning Council (SRPC), the County of Huron, Perth County, the City of Stratford, the Town of St. Marys, the Huron Arts and Heritage Network and the Listowel Salvation Army aims to ensure rural voices are heard.
“15 per cent of Ontarians live in small communities and rural environments and these areas have a unique voice,” says Leith Deacon, assistant professor at the University of Guelph’s School of Environmental Design & Rural Development. “We want to make sure that voice is heard. We’re looking forward to adding our work in Perth to what we’re already doing in Huron to learn about the concerns and anxieties of local people as communities look for ways to recover from the pandemic.”
The U of G survey aims to find out what planning is required to best support ongoing recovery in Perth and Huron as well as how to best increase resilience and well-being over the longer term. Researchers aim to identify vulnerable populations, determine priority programs including mental health, income and food security, and education specifically to support those populations during and after COVID-19, explore opportunities for the non-profit sector and identify emergent mental health and economic concerns. The project is funded through Mitacs, a non-profit research organization that, through partnerships with Canadian academia, private industry and government, operates research and training in fields related to social and industrial innovation.
The research team from the U of G encourages all residents over the age of 18 to complete the survey in an effort to capture the most accurate data that reflects the experiences of people from across Huron and Perth Counties. The survey takes roughly half an hour to complete and is now open to people in Perth, as well as still being open in Huron. Residents can visit https://linktr.ee/RURAL_RESPONSE to complete the online version of the survey.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the results of U of G’s survey,” said SRPC Director of Planning, Susanna Reid. “This research will form the basis of our future research and planning efforts in Perth and Huron Counties. What we learn will help shape programs and policies tailored to local needs.”
About the Social Research and Planning Council
The SRPC is operated by United Way Perth-Huron (UWPH) and is comprised of volunteer community representatives dedicated to the collection, analysis and distribution of information relating to local social trends. Research enables United Way to discover and understand the root causes of issues affecting Perth-Huron and in turn mobilize the community.
About United Way Perth-Huron
UWPH is a 100% local organization working to address #UNIGNORABLE issues like poverty, homelessness and mental health in our communities. Thanks to United Way and people across the region, over 39,000 of the most vulnerable in Perth and Huron Counties have a brighter future. To show your #LocalLove by donating or volunteering, call 519-271-7730 or 1-877-818-8867, mail to 32 Erie Street, Stratford, ON N5A 2M4 or visit perthhuron.unitedway.ca