Elise von Scheel
Post-incident support networks are being tested in an Ottawa neighbourhood in order to combat the effects of crime and trauma on communities.
A 2016 report by Crime Prevention Ottawa showed that when neighbourhoods experience high levels of trauma, it often tears the community apart.
In response, the City of Ottawa has launched a pilot project in the Overbrook area to test the Post-Incident Neighbourhood Support Framework – a place where victims can go for help.
The need for a support network became apparent in 2012 when Ottawa was dealing with particularly high level of gang activity in neighbourhoods, said Nancy Worsfold, the executive director of Crime Prevention Ottawa.
“The purpose was to activate networks to follow up after tragic incidents," she said.
Four new neighbourhoods will be added to the pilot this year, though they have yet to be chosen.
Trauma occurs when an incident is unexpected, people are unprepared and when there is no possibility of prevention. The report also found that shootings and drug activity have the biggest impact on neighbourhoods.
“When there’s a community experience of crime or violence, for many people it’s not their first experience of a traumatic event," said Dr. Matthew Kerr, a psychologist from The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, adding that some communities don’t know what it’s like to feel safe.
The new framework is focused on trauma-informed care, which is something Kerr said is key.
Trauma -informed care is help given by professionals trained to be sensitive and respectful of the situations. Negative responses are often triggered when individuals feel blamed by others.
“The more trauma we experience, the less trusting of other people we tend to be,” Kerr said. “The capacity to have meaningful, deep relationships becomes eroded."
The new support network will work on coordinating existing support structures, and promote trust between law enforcement and communities who feel forgotten.
To read the full report, visit http://bit.ly/1WKGwyw