This is part of a series about community. Growing and sustaining a community brings benefits to the participants, provides a means of personal development and builds hope and resilience. It can also smooth the path to build more liveable, life-fulfilling housing for people with very low and no incomes. For more on the series, try: Building More Housing By Strengthening Community
Suganthine Sundaralingam is a great strength in her community. When she moved to a Toronto Community Housing Corporation building in Scarborough 13 years ago, she started a conversation circle with her neighbours who were learning English. Not only did they get to practice their conversational skills, they also got to know and support each other.
When COVID arrived in Toronto, Sundaralingam was well positioned to help out, acting as a Community Ambassador. She functions as a bridge between the official instructions, which have changed enough times to make your head spin, and residents who are living in neighbourhoods with high infection rates. Sundringham is one example of a network of Community Ambassadors who are working in priority neighbourhoods across the city.
Right now, she’s reaching out to residents to encourage them to get vaccinated. This is important because people in Ontario can be vaccinated even if they are not covered in the public health insurance system. She is also helping people to navigate the booking system and the transportation service that ferries people to vaccination clinics and back home again. In addition, she’s identifying people who need to receive their vaccination at home.
Sandaralingham is a great ambassador because she has consistently worked to strengthen her local community. To read more about how she does it, check out The Local: Community Ambassadors Are the Link to Toronto’s Unvaccinated Populations