The Year in Review
In the last year, through the omnipresent and work-altering impacts of COVID-19, PAN has continued to steer the ‘coordinated and effective community-based response to HIV and hepatitis C in our province’, the stated goal of the Collective Impact Network (CIN). An added uncertainty was that all the community contracts with the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) ended in March, unless their new previously submitted proposals were successful. Despite these things, we are satisfied to see the CIN transition, even evolve, as it moves into the next three years of collaboration.
The PHSA funds and co-leads the CIN, and PAN has dual roles to build capacity in the sector and provide leadership and administrative coordination. Eight other community-based organization have been active participants during the year (YouthCO; Pivot Legal Society; CBRC; Pacific Hepatitis C Network; Options; Central Interior Native Health Society; Positive Living BC (until March 2020); Vancouver Friends for Life (until March 2020). The FNHA has also joined the table, which is an exciting expansion, as our priorities recently expanded to include a commitment to Truth and Reconciliation.
Other priorities continue to be:
1. Increase involvement of People with Lived/Living Experience (PWLE)
2. Increase program equity and services for HIV and hepatitis C; and across BC (urban, suburban, rural and remote locations)
3. Harm Reduction
4. Stigma reduction
PAN’s development of annual surveys and shared measurement indicators has enabled the CIN to evaluate its own effectiveness, as well as assist the PHSA in assessing the work of individual agencies. You can read more about how the network functions here (or watch the video). As can be imagined, the CIN now meets and works virtually, due to COVID-19 precautions.
The work teams of the CIN continue to do the primary activities. Up until the end of the first contract in March, there were three work teams, each comprised of a subset of CIN members, working to address a specific priority. The priority of the first project was to increase meaningful involvement of people with lived/living experiences (PWLE) of HIV and hepatitis C by exploring the differences between ‘best practices’ and the working realities in community-based organizations (CBOs) and health authorities (HA) across the province. During this period PAN has been working with Pacific Hepatitis C Network to finalize the survey. Due to COVID challenges and impact on capacity, this project has been paused for the moment. A second team focused on increasing program equity and services across BC and success was primarily found in our individual organizations being able to build trust and connections with rural communities. The final group concentrated on stigma reduction and supported the Afro-Canadian Positive Network (ACPNet) in two events: on December 2, YouthCO and PLBC worked with ACPNet to host a drop in table at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Clinic in support of World AIDS Day; on February 7 with an HIV awareness event at Surrey Library around African, Caribbean and Black Canadian HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
In April 2020, the CIN entered its second phase of development. Based on evaluation of the first stage, agency capacity and expanding our priorities, the CIN work has shifted to agency-led projects that fulfil the following criteria: Engage people with lived experience (PWLE) meaningfully; Address one or more CIN priorities; and provide other CIN agencies the opportunity to participate in and enhance the project. We hope that keys to success this time are that the project management is the ultimate responsibility of the agency, and the project does not have to be novel work – but can be part of existing plans.
In September 2020 the following exciting project ideas were put forward:
- CBRC for Gay Men’s Health and YouthCO – Community of Practice for Indigenous staff members – This project aims to support Indigenous leadership, by establishing a Community of Practice for Indigenous staff members focusing on HIV/hepatitis C. They may work in educator, manager, or program roles.
- Central Interior Native Health Society – Safe Space in Healthcare and Advocacy: This project will determine if the CINHS clinic and staff are providing culturally-safe medical and psychosocial support to their vulnerable populations, and not creating barriers to accessing care and services, as well as exploring how to re-engage clients who are lost to care. PWLE will lead groups of clients into walkthroughs of the entire clinic, and then facilitate a discussion about cultural safety and respect.
- Options – Knowledge Exchange and Translation: Hiring a provincial outreach worker and peer support worker will better connect Options to their connected HIV/hepatitis C direct service organizations, and looks to provide virtual and ‘lunch and learn’ educational opportunities.
- PHCN – Community Pre-Summit Project: CanHepC is now in an implementation phase for their Blueprint to inform hepatitis C elimination efforts in Canada. The project’s aim is to ensure robust community voice in the Summit, through bringing CBO staff (paid, volunteer, peer) together, through a combination of virtual focus groups and online surveys over the fall and early winter.
- PIVOT – Education and Outreach: Following up from Project Inclusion: Confronting anti-homeless & anti-substance user stigma in BC, this project has the goal to address upstream barriers to effective HIV and HCV prevention, treatment, and care, by prioritizing education and outreach to Indigenous communities, peer-led groups, and stakeholders who identify as people with lived experience.
- PAN – Organizational Stigma Assessment Tool: Rooted in work from the Stigma Index project, PAN held a Deliberative Dialogue in November 2019. Participants stressed the need for anti-stigma interventions and the importance of centering people with lived/living experiences (PWLE) in this work, including a need to support service providers engaging with priority populations. They conceptualized a learning-based assessment and planning tool for organizations, and this project seeks to move this work forward.
We look forward to seeing these ideas explored, as they all tie into our priorities, and how the work can be enhanced by the participation of the network members.
Outside of our teamwork and collective advocacy, early in March 2020, PAN convened the “Stories of Lived Experience” event, funded by the PHSA. It was a wonderful time to hear from those with lived experience, and the consultations and group work will inform the work of the CIN in the coming years. The event was greatly appreciated by participants and there is a desire for this to happen again (see Full Report).
Soon after this event COVID-19 locked down the province, and PAN immediately responded by convening weekly meetings with Executive Directors. What became apparent was a need for resourcing, supplies, and food security, so PAN advocated for the PHSA’s Innovation Fund to shift from CIN priority-relate projects to COVID-19 relief. Subsequently, two calls for proposals have indeed been released, one in June and a second in September, where Indigenous-led and Indigenous serving organizations will be prioritized. PAN is again on the evaluation committee and is providing administrative support, and is glad to come alongside its membership at this critical time.
We could never have imagined the way PAN, and the community agencies comprising the CIN, would have to flex and shift in these times, but together we are stronger, more effective and better equipped to respond to HIV and hepatitis C in our province.
For more information on the Collective Impact Network, contact Simon Goff, Collective Impact Network Coordinator, [email protected]
Photo of Brackendale by James Wheeler on Unsplash