The Collective Impact Network (CIN) is a Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) sponsored initiative, being co-led by PAN acting as the backbone. It consists of the six PHSA-contracted agencies that are supporting the community-based response to HIV and HCV, alongside the PHSA, and including the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and BC Women’s Hospital.
The goal of the CIN is to facilitate collaboration on priority areas that will best support people living with HIV and HCV and the frontline organizations that serve them. We are featuring blogs on each agency in the CIN and what they bring to the CIN… so you can get to know them, hear some stories and meet the people!
Darren Ho, gbMSM Health Network Manager
The Community-Based Research Centre for Gay Men’s Health (CBRC) is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to using participatory research to develop and disseminate knowledge about gay men’s health, to develop interventions addressing health and social issues. We work to advance health outcomes of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) through research that is done by and for our communities. As the gbMSM Health Network Manager, my role is to connect, build, and maintain a network of groups, organizations, and individuals that can share and create resources together related to gbMSM all across British Columbia.
Personally, what led you into taking on your role?
I saw this role as an exciting opportunity for me to be at an organization that I value, and to do work that I find meaningful. Prior to taking on my role as gbMSM Health Network Manager, I participated in some of CBRC’s programs: Totally Outright, a leadership program for young gay men; and InvestiGaytors, a research capacity building and training program. Both of these programs helped me learn more about the importance of Gay Men’s Health and eventually I began working as the Program Coordinator of Mpowerment, an HIV intervention and education program for young guys, run out of YouthCO HIV and Hep C Society. When the opportunity to manage CBRC’s gbMSM Health Network came up, I thought it would a good chance for me to utilize all of my experience in Gay Men’s Health, on the frontlines of running programs and campaigns, as well as navigating through all the services and organizations in our sector.
Can you tell a story that excites you about the impact your work is having?
Given that the gbMSM Health Network is province-wide, I am very fortunate that I get to connect with those working in Gay Men’s Health from all across the province. While CBRC and the gbMSM Health Network is further away from the frontlines of Gay Men’s health where impact is seemingly most evident, in my experience, I can still appreciate and find excitement in knowing that my work supports others in building the capacity to serve gbMSM communities in their own areas. For some folks in more rural regions of BC, doing Gay Men’s Health work can often feel lonely, isolating, and unproductive. With the gbMSM Health Network, I get to create and disseminate opportunities for all of us in the province to collaborate whenever possible.
What is the unique value that your agency brings to the Collective Impact Network (CIN) and its priority areas?
Incorporated in 1999, CBRC has since been dedicated to improving gay men’s health through research, knowledge transfer and exchange, strategic innovation and opportunities for training. As the CIN is focused on the community-based response to HIV and HCV, CBRC brings the breadth of knowledge and lived experiences of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, into the important conversations to be had around HIV and HCV. Considering that men who have sex with men still make up the majority of new cases of HIV diagnoses in BC, it is imperative that gbMSM experiences are included into these conversations, strategies, and plans.
So far, what have you learnt – or how has your work been enhanced – by being a part of the network?
From being a part of the Collective Impact Network along with the other four amazing organizations, I have felt the importance of having community collaborations when it comes to planning and organizing strategies for HIV and HCV interventions. It’s been truly worthwhile to have a space where we can get feedback from peers around the work that we are doing, so that we can discuss best practices, share resources, and offer and ask for support.
How can (and why should) readers get involved with your agency?
Being involved with CBRC means being connected to a network that is devoted to doing research and advocacy work for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men all over Canada. We work towards structural and policy changes that will enhance the lives of all those in our communities. As a growing organization, we are always looking for new ways and ideas from you on what these changes can be and how to realize them. If you are looking to get involved, please get in touch with us via our webpage.
Questions? Feedback? Get in touch!
Simon Goff, Executive Assistant and Collective Impact Coordinator, [email protected]