Salvationist Podcast

Claire Dunmore, Territorial Integrated Mission Secretary

October 13, 2020 Salvationist.ca Season 2 Episode 2
Salvationist Podcast
Claire Dunmore, Territorial Integrated Mission Secretary
Chapters
Salvationist Podcast
Claire Dunmore, Territorial Integrated Mission Secretary
Oct 13, 2020 Season 2 Episode 2
Salvationist.ca

Welcome to our second episode of "Mission in a Pandemic," a six-episode podcast that will feature insights into how The Salvation Army is adapting as we reopen during the pandemic. Today we're talking with Claire Dunmore, Territorial Integrated Mission Secretary, who will offer a perspective on integrated mission within the social services ministry of The Salvation Army.

Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to our second episode of "Mission in a Pandemic," a six-episode podcast that will feature insights into how The Salvation Army is adapting as we reopen during the pandemic. Today we're talking with Claire Dunmore, Territorial Integrated Mission Secretary, who will offer a perspective on integrated mission within the social services ministry of The Salvation Army.

Brandon Laird
I'm Brandon Laird, and you are listening to the Salvationist Podcast.  Welcome to another episode of 'Mission in a Pandemic,' a six episode podcast that will feature insights into how The Salvation Army is adapting as we reopen during the pandemic. Today we're going to talk with Claire Dunmore, territorial integrated mission secretary, who will offer a perspective on integrated mission within the social services ministry of the Salvation Army. Good day, Claire, glad that you can come on to the podcast.

Claire Dunmore
Brandon, it's lovely to to be able to have a chat with you. It's been a while.

Brandon
Yes, it's very interesting working offsite these days at THQ with everyone, seeing them through the Zoom interfaces. We actually, in some cases, I think are talking more away from the building than when we were actually at the building.

Claire
Oh absolutely. Yeah, you can't just have a quick chat with someone at the coffee station here; it's a planning meeting and it's 30 minutes, an hour or whatever is the case. But it's all good.

Brandon
We are known for our social service work and then within the social service work we have the integrated mission department which is doing new things with the Pathway of Hope and building on innovations within The Salvation Army to help with social services. Covid-19 pandemic happened just as you guys were rolling out this Pathway of Hope program across the territory, so I'm curious, as you are opening up, what safeguards have you put into place to open safely?

Claire
Many of the ministry units as you know across the territory have never closed their doors, particularly when you're talking about residential facilities, shelters, healthcare, transitional housing.... and even our corps services that provide community services across the territory have had to change the way they do their business. The doors have been open for the most part, but there may be reduced hours, may be reduced programming or programming may not feasible. But in terms of Pathway of Hope, we have been intentional about reigniting the concept but also during this whole time I have said, "Keep connected with people." You could give them a phone call, send them a postcard, do those kind of things and there's been many ministry units across the territory that have been able to do that and have just picked up the phone and said how are you doing. I've been working with a client for several months then here comes Covid -- if they picked up the phone and said what's going on, how are you doing, we're thinking about you ... that's huge. But now we're entering back into a stage where we can physically see people like you come into the office more easily or the appropriate provincial guidelines have been put in place. I've been to several ministry units in the last six weeks for various different reasons -- training and things like that -- and it's great to see that it's the norm for there to be time between appointments so that there's there's less activity in the buildings. People are really taking this seriously and precautions are being put in place to affect our own staff but also the people that we are working with, so good things are happening.

Brandon
That's good to hea. For people who are interested in knowing about the Covid-19 recovery road map for the Pathway of Hope you could visit salvationist.ca/integratedmission and just click on the Pathway of Hope recovery road map and you can see what's happening there. You just said you actually haven't closed at all during the pandemic in your ministries, and other ministries have transitioned and are now re engaging in different aspects. Can you share any examples of some stories from the Pathway of Hope during this Covid time?

Claire
Sure, I mean there's there's quite a number. I think of the mother of two girls, ages 10 and 5. Melissa came to The Salvation Army for a food hamper initially, conversation happened and a relationship was built with the caseworker. In that first appointment, she talked about her struggles with relocating from a totally different province into that particular province and not knowing the systems and what was available and to her and her children and all of those kinds of things. She set some goals through Pathway of Hope  for employment and education. She was referred to the local job agency and within five weeks of being on Pathway of Hope, getting some resumes written, she was she found a job. The second goal was education and she worked with the caseworker again and the local college student navigator to discuss what kind of options were available to her. As of this month, she starts her medical assistance program in September. We are so very excited and these are all things in people's lives that are still happening right now. So we we had to keep stepping up to support transition and that sort of magic that can happen when when we come alongside people and they're willing to let us do that. Mitchell was a guy who came through the Edmonton Centre of Hope through their transitional housing addictions program and struggled with substance abuse. He was enrolled in Pathway of Hope as he lived in transitional housing, and his goals that he set for himself were education, volunteering and to be a mentor to other men and women struggling with substance issues. He graduated earlier this year from Centre of Hope and he reached all those three goals -- pretty amazing! He actually mentors four individuals, he is in a bachelor of education program at the local university and  he volunteers with The Salvation Army regularly. This holistic approach to people and to providing tools or for them to continue to work on some of these barriers of life, it's amazing that transformation. I could give you stories all day long, but you might get a little bit irritated. I'll start with those two -- but there are lots of good news stories out there.

Brandon
It's really quite impactful. What was interesting from those two stories is the mother with two children -- you're not helping her but you're helping the whole family in this season, which is really important. And the second one, with the story of him going back to school, it also feels connected to the mission and helping out others in their season of need as well. So really encouraging stories. You've already touched on this next question, but how important is it to find ways to continue making social services available to people even when we have these Covid-19 restrictions?

Claire
I think there is a ton of anxiety and change that has happened. Most of us don't particularly like change or at least for the most part gets a little uncomfortable. But when change is forced upon us, as it has been for Covid, and its been so rapid .... I mean daily we get a new protocol from our province or from our workplace or from the school. I mean the changes are rapid can cause huge anxiety but the practical pieces are that we don't know what the future looks like and we couldn't predict that June the unemployment rate in Canada would hit an all time high of 13.7% -- the average economist says that is likely to hit 15% huge for Canada -- there we are providing some practical assistance but journeying with people to actually not just do the emergency pieces of food and shelter but actually have an impact on the future of that individual and their whole family. That's our mission: it's the transformation piece and not just this transactional piece. So it's critical that we are there for folks, that we stay open and that we evolve in the way that we do business, because our world is evolving all the time and we have to do that.

Brandon
Some of these changes that you been making in Pathway of Hope and social service ministry across the country will this have changed the way you guys do ministry going forward and after we get back to what we call 'normal'.

Claire
Yeah I think it's given us opportunity to evaluate what we're doing because we had to just stop doing many things. We had to stop group programming and community meals and things with groups of people who were put together. They may have been wonderful programs and wonderful initiatives but it's also given us opportunity to evaluate what we have been doing and how well they've been working for us and also how busy maybe we've been on all of this programming. We are an organization that does very well but we don't step back very often and evaluate. For me, this is a great opportunity for us to have stopped and evaluate what are we going to do going forward. What are really important things? How can we ensure that we're doing mission? For me, Pathway of Hope makes total sense. It's a one on one, it's intensive services, it's about building community around people and involving our church people. The Sunday crowd with the Monday through Friday crowd -- actually trying to bring those two entities together and build community and have the service be relevant in communities. To me, it makes all the sense in the world. This is how we do business going forward.

Brandon
Claire, do you have any other stories around Pathway of Hope that you would like to share with our listeners today?

Claire
Of course, I can do that. I think of Deanna and her young son who fled domestic violence relationship. With that kind of situation you end up being homeless for the most part. She came to The Salvation Army and to residential facility transitional housing to be able to put a life back together and a Pathway of Hope caseworker worked with her and set some goals: housing, education and a driver's license -- those are some of the things that she wanted. Some parenting classes for her and her son. She's currently enrolled in a local college for social work so she has achieved the education piece. I may need to get an update on Deanna but she's next on the list for the housing through a housing first program. There are lots of stories like this.

Brandon
It's really quite phenomenal that when you work alongside people and see that change happe. It's so good to see transformation happen in people's lives and being able to be a part of it. It sounds a little bit to me like coaching, maybe some some spiritual direction combined to work with people and coach them through a process. That sounds like an interesting way to work with people one on one individually and as they go through their journey or what they're going through at that moment.

Claire
Yeah, we are all unique, we all need different supports in different ways. Definitely the spiritual component is critical for Pathway of Hope. It's a team approach in terms of a ministry units approach to Pathway, but there is a case worker/spiritual care worker and then a lead who can keep this all together and ensure that the engine is still running. This is a holistic approach to people and it absolutely is a coaching process; it's a journeying alongside people as opposed to us providing for someone who has a need. We provide the service and they go and you never the two shall meet again -- it's not about that. It's about building relationships, about having conversation, it's about breaking down barriers, it's about building the strength of that individual and reminding them or telling them for the first time that they actually have strengths in this area because they have they are resilient. They've been through a lot and yet still they are here. It is a coaching, absolutely; it's it's a wonderful opportunity.

Brandon
Another question here about innovation. I heard through some of the people that you work with that Pathway of Hope and integrated mission are sort of like the innovation department within social services and some degree social services is known within The Salvation Army and in the public sphere. Have there been some new innovations that have come out of this time?

Claire
That's nice to hear you say. I'm not sure we can live up to i,t but will give it a good go! We've been working on for some time on web based training programs to provide some fundamental education to our own people around social services basics. So we're working on that elearning tool so that our own staff will be able to take these modules and get a certificate. So that's one thing I think that's really important to continue, to constantly provide training opportunities because we don't all have a masters degree in social work or are license social worker. So it's very important for keep up with with some of this stuff and have the appropriate learnings. We've got lots of fun things available to people on our website so please have a look there. We do monthly trainings and the last few months during Covid we've really tried to focus on awareness and community forums where people, experts in the field, have shared over and over Zoom. We've averaged 30 to 50 people on those days every month which is huge. And we're super excited about that. Things like just addressing some of the social concerns in our communities -- black lives matter, domestic violence increases during Covid, the economic crisis during Covid -- and what that might mean to us as an organization moving forward. So those are some of the topics that we had people outside The Salvation Army, experts in those fields, actually speaking to us about what that might look like and how we might respond accordingly.

Brandon
Sounds like a great monthly get together. Well, I just want to thank you, Claire, today for coming and talking to us on the Salvationist podcast.

So today we were listening to Claire Dunmore, the territorial secretary for integrated mission and the website that we were talking about,  we gave you the address earlier but here it is again: salvationist.ca/integratedmission.

Claire
Thanks, Brandon.

Brandon
Thanks for listening to the Salvationist 'Mission in a Pandemic' podcast. For new episodes be sure to visit salvationist.ca/podcast. For more Army news, visit salvationist.ca. And if you would like to get news delivered directly to your email inbox, sign up for our weekly newsletter at salvationist.ca/newsletter.