Sherbourne Health Centre Corporation
Our Impact Why We Exist
Sherbourne's mission is to advance the equity and quality of care and services, and to improve health for underserved communities.
Our Story What We Do
History of Organization
Sherbourne Health Centre is a community-governed health centre that has been delivering quality healthcare and transformative support services to marginalized populations in Toronto since 2002. Our mandate includes developing innovative services and delivering high quality programs for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans) communities, newcomers to Canada, and those who are homeless or vulnerably housed. Key dates include:
2002 – Sherbourne opens, offering primary health care and mental health counseling, and on-the-spot nursing care through a mobile Health Bus program, which was first initiated by Wellesley Central Hospital and the Rotary Club of Toronto
2004 - SOY (Supporting Our Youth) serving LGBT youth joins Sherbourne
2006 – The LGBTQ Parenting Network joins Sherbourne
2007 – Sherbourne moves into 333 Sherbourne Street, and opens an on-site Infirmary for homeless and precariously housed people suffering from chronic conditions
2008 - Rainbow Health Ontario (RHO) founded as a provincial program at Sherbourne
2013 – Sherbourne opens the Rotary Health Clinic in adjacent St James Town
Accolades and Accomplishments
2005 –City of Toronto Human Rights Pride Award (SOY); Canadian Race Relations Foundation Awards of Excellence Honorable Mention ‘Best Practice Model’ for Black Queer Youth Initiative (SOY)
2006 –Toronto Youth Cabinet Identify ‘N’ Impact Street-Level Activist Award (SOY)
2009 - Canadian Urban Leadership City Youth Award (SOY)
2010 - First bi-annual LGBT health-focussed conference launched - the only LGBT Health Conference in Canada (Rainbow Health Ontario)
2012 – Awarded unconditional Accreditation with Commendation by Accreditation Canada; Cancer Quality Council of Ontario (CQCO) Innovation Award for initiatives with homeless/marginally housed clients undergoing cancer treatment; Toronto Arts Foundation Youth for Arts Award (SOY)
2013 - City Pride Access, Equity & Human Rights Award winner; Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario (AFHTO) Bright Lights “Improving Care for the Five per cent” Award; Vital Youth Award winner (SOY)
2014 - Vital Ideas Award (SOY); Inspire Awards (SOY)
2015 - Vital Ideas Award (SOY), Awarded Accreditation with Exemplary Standing by Accreditation Canada
Our Programs How We Do It
Holistic Health and Wellbeing
Sherbourne Health Centre offers high quality, inclusive health care and community development programs and support services to some of Toronto's most marginalized populations. We strive to address the social determinants of health – the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age– and improve holistic wellbeing through primary health care and chronic disease management, mental health counseling, health promotion and health education, outreach and advocacy, research, and supportive arts-based and recreational programming.
Key programs include:
SOY H.E.A.T. for emerging LGBTQ Youth Leaders: supporting and empowering LGBT youth as speakers and ambassadors to raise awareness of LGBTQ youth issues
SOY’s Monday Night Drop-In: connecting, empowering and building the resilience of LGBTW youth who are homeless, at significant risk or street-involved, and supporting their basic needs
Sherbourne's Women in Need 'Klink' (WINK): acess to health care support, health information and peer community to empower and build reslience for homeless and street-involved women
SOY H.E.A.T. (Human Rights. Equity. Access. Team.)
SOY H.E.A.T. trains and empowers queer and trans youth under 29 as ambassadors and public speakers to confront oppression and raise awareness of the issues facing LGBTQ youth. H.E.A.T. ambassadors embark on an extenstive seven-month training program leading to their empowerment to create safer, more welcoming environments for LGBT youth and their peers. The youth ambassadors talk directly to a range of audiences, including school and college faculty and assemblies, employers, service-providers and the media, about their own experiences of handling oppression. They highlight the challenges facing LGBT youth and their peers today, and what needs to change, providing guidance on how to implement and support societal and systemic change.
SOY H.E.A.T. Impact
SOY H.E.A.T. youth have given presentations/facilitations to youth, schools, employers and service-providers. Presentations reflect youths’ lived experiences of homophobia and transphobia, as well as their intersecting experiences of racism, disablism and other oppressions.
Youth report that they are gaining personal and vocational skills, have become better able to recognize and challenge discrimination, and have increased self-esteem and improved social interaction. Audience feedback shows that presentations are leading them to make both personal and institutional changes.
"Being part of SOY HEAT has dispelled for me the myth that youth are powerless. This has increased my confidence when it comes to making my way in the world. Training to become an Ambassador for SOY H.E.A.T. has also allowed me to grasp the revolutionary power of informal education… It has given me the ability to personally relate to the slogan ‘knowledge is power.’ And, most importantly, joining SOY H.E.A.T. has solidified my desire to make the world a better place."
“The connection to personal stories sensitizes people in a different way – and it’s an awareness that leads to change… As an educator I felt, ‘here’s what I can do and here’s why I’m doing it’”. TDSB staff
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by SOY H.E.A.T.
Bullying affects not only immediate but long-term mental health. One in five students reported experiencing bullying in the previous 12 months. Bullying was more commonly reported by students in lower grades, by females and by sudetns who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, another sexual orientation or unsure about their sexual orientation.
- Reported hate/bias crimes increased by 11% in Toronto in 2013-2014 representing an increase after a drop in 2013. Members of the Jewish, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and the entire spectrum of gender and sexuality outside of heterosexual), and the black communities remain the most frequently targetted. 18% of reported hate/bias crimes are reported by LGBTQ individuals.
SOY's Monday Night Drop-In (MNDI)
MNDI welcomes 40-50 homeless, at-risk and street-involved LGBT youth each week, providing a home-cooked meal in Sherbourne's Share and Learn Kitchen, access to LGBTQ mentors, group activities and one-on-one support. MNDI aims to connect, empower and build the resilience of youth, increasing their capacity to make healthy choices and improve their wellbeing. We provide supportive programming and services that fulfil basic needs, increase awareness of rights and opportunities, help youth develop useful skills, and provide resournces to access and sustain housing, employment and community supports. We engage youth in activities that increase their sense of worth and connection and help them to develop a stronger sense of identity and belonging.
Monday Night Drop-In Impact
MNDI and related SOY services provide reliable, LGBT-affirming points of connection, support and opportunities often contributing to longer-term life changes, including access to housing, education, employment and community. A connection with a staff/mentor may be the most stable relationship the youth has in their lives at that time and mentors provide long-terms support. Over a one year period, the Monday Night Drop-In has over 1,800 youth visits with approximately 275 individual youth attending and returning for support and services.
One SOY youth wrote:
“SOY helped me through some of the most challenging moments in my entire life… There were times that I had no income, and SOY was there to help me find work and support for my basic needs; there were times when I had no place to be, and SOY was there to tell me my options; there were times when I had no reason to keep living, and SOY was there to listen to me and remind me of all the reasons I had forgotten.”
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by SOY's Monday Night Drop-In
- LGBTQ youth experience higher rates of harassment and violence and are over-represented in the shleter system. In a 2000 study of Canada's homeless youth, 25-40% identified as LGBTQ.
Racialized, immigrant and newcomer youth are over-represented among the "hidden homeless" population, and many feel a sense of "shattered expectation". In a 2014 reported from the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health and Children's Aid Society of Toronto of Toronto's homeless newcomer youth, more than one in 3 participants identified as "LGBTTIQ".
Sherbourne's Women in Need 'Klink' (WINK)
WINK is a weekly morning drop-in program that welcomes up to 50 women every Wednesday into Sherbourne Health Centre. Our muliti-disciplinary team is on hand to provide medical and community resources, linking women to vital, health care resources and support. While women visit members of the health team, health promotion activities and opportunities to socialize and connect take place at WINK. For many women living on the streets, this is the only time during the week for them to make their own cup of coffee and fresh breakfast.
Women learn about holistic health through presentations on topics such as cold and flu, diabetes education, food & blood pressure, amoung many other things. Activities also take place, including arts based projects that inspire creativity. Event more importantly, women also have a chance to meet each other, socialize, reduce isolation and build a supportive community together at WINK.
WINK empowers homeless, under-housed and street-involved women and enables them to take an active approach to their health through access to resources and a peer community. The impact of WINK on overall health is profound. As women meet with members of the Sherbourne team, they can discuss their health concerns and access vital health resources in the community. Through health promotion presentations, women learn about different aspects of overall health, from diabetes education to learning to eat healthy from a food bank. Women in WINK meet other women, socialize and build a resilient and supportive community together.
- Approximately 1,000 visits to WINK from homeless, under-housed and street involved women annually, with up to 50 women visiting WINK every week
- Weekly drop-in sessions held each week with women directing programming, providing key insight into health programming and arts activities that resonate, empower and build community
One WINK participant, Debi, said:
"I'm 50. I started drinking when I was 13 and angry, and I've been addicted to crack for 24 years. I lost myself somewhere. I found out about WINK from people around here. They come becasue there's good food, and nurses and doctors. Everyone's welcoming. I feel comfortable here. WINK turned my life around. I've got mental health and addiction issues. I attend the Hep C program now too. I was at a hostel, now I'm housed. I got lucky. Once you have a key... your life begins".
Toronto's Vital Signs indicator(s) addressed by Sherbourne's Women in Need Klinik (WINK)
- Lower-income Torontonians have poorer health, and the situation has not improved in recent years: Extensive evidence has shown a clear link between income and health. Socio-economic circumstances account for 50% of a person's health.
- A one-person household with Ontario Disability Support Program income has negative $88.06) (i.e. they are $88.06 in debt) after paying for nutritious food and rent, a 14.9% decrease (from negative $103.50) from the previous year.
Ryerson University (Politics of Sex and Sexuality Class); TDSB; TCHC; City of Toronto Homelessness Partnership Strategy; Justice for Children and Youth; the Triangle Program; Youth Employment Toronto; Fred Victor; St Stephen’s Youth Employment Services; Central Toronto Youth Services; SKETCH; David Kelley Program at Family Services; Eva’s Phoenix (Family Reconnect); Furniture Bank. [Housing Partnerships] Hugh Garner Co-op, St Clare’s Multifaith Housing and Youthlink.
What You Can Do
SOY H.E.A.T. for Emerging LGBT Youth Leaders
Activities a donation will support
Your gift will build the capacity, skills and strenghts of 30 youth ambassadors, role models and emerging leaders. Annually, approximately $20,000 supports leadership and anti-oppression training, program coordination, youth honoraria ($40 per presentation), TTC tokens and refreshments needed which helps to ensure that socio-economically challenged youth can participate.
Feedback from SOY H.E.A.T youth reflects the knowledge, skills, important vocational experience and resilience they are gaining from the program. Their audiences - including educators, employers and service-providers - report that presentations are inspiring, empowering and enable them to create safer spaces for LGBT and other marginalized youth.
SOY’s Monday Night Drop-In
Activities a donation will support
- $10 could provide TTC tokens and a healthy meal for one youth
- $25 could provide an hour of one-on-one support/advocacy for a youth surviving day-to-day on the streets
- $1135 could support MNDI for a night, providing up to 50 homeless and street-involved LGBT youth with food, support and group activities
Reducing the barriers that youth face in accessing programs and resources is fundamental to the success of our work. Providing TTC tokens, food, mentoring and recreational activities are all crucial ways of both providing practical help and helping youth to develop a much-needed sense of trust, belonging and community.
Sherbourne's Women in Need 'Klinik' (WINK)
Activities a donation will support
Your gift will build the capacity of the WINK program to continue to see up to 50 women every week. Your support helps to fund a nutritious, healthy breakfast, health programming and wellness presentations, arts-based activities and personal hygiene supplies that women can take home with them.
Providing one-stop access to health care resources, community outreach staff and a nutritious breakfast empowers homeless, low-income and street involved women and strengthens their overall health. These women who typically face barriers accessing health care, build community together in a welcoming and open environment.