What is a Neighbourhood Centre?

Neighbourhood Centres in Action

Neighbourhood Centres develop and deliver community services including:

  • Seniors, Youth and Family Programs
  • Employment and Skills Training
  • Settlement Services
  • Community Development Initiatives
  • Literacy and ESL Programs
  • Housing and Food Access
  • Social Recreation Activities

Neighbourhood Centres are hubs and anchors for social participation. They play a central role in fostering key characteristics of supportive communities, including:

INCLUSIVENESS: empowering individuals and groups who have been left out of the planning, decision-making and policy-development processes in their community; promoting increased awareness, respect and an active celebration of people's diversity.

OPPORTUNITY: working to ensure that all community members, especially those most vulnerable, have access to adequate income, education and a network of relationships they need to participate as valued members of society.

MUTUAL SUPPORT: assisting community members to help each other and work together to address shared concerns.

Applying these principles means working directly with community members, developing initiatives from the ground up, mobilizing trained volunteers and skilled staff, and securing government funds and private donations to achieve locally defined objectives.

Neighbourhood Centres emerged from the Settlement House Movement which began in 1883 with the establishment of the first settlement house, Toynbee Hall in London, England.

The first settlement houses were established in Toronto between 1894 and 1914, and included Fred Victor Centre (1894), University Settlement Recreation Centre (1910), Central Neighbourhood House (1911) and St. Christopher House (1912). All of these organizations are still active members of the current Toronto Neighbourhood Centres association.

Toronto Neighbourhood Centres is a member of IFS - the International Federation of Settlements and Neighbourhood Centres http://www.ifsnetwork.org The IFS has members in over thirty countries across the world. Some member organizations include:

Toronto Neighbourhood Centres is also a member of CANS - the Canadian Association of Neighbourhood Services, with membership in urban centres across Canada. For further information please e-mail the CANS President: maureenfa@stchrishouse.org