News Local/State

How Collaboration Can Help Communities Better Serve Vulnerable People


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The Family Service Self-Help Center in Champaign helps connect people across east-central Illinois to support groups for a variety of issues, including addiction, mental health, caregiving and other needs.

The group also helps foster collaboration between different community organizations working to help vulnerable populations.

On Friday, May 3, the Self-Help Center will host a conference focused on the importance of working together to address needs in the community.

Licensed therapist Karen Simms is the keynote speaker for the event.

Simms, who specializes in helping communities facing trauma, said Champaign-Urbana is an area with a lot of resources. But many well-intentioned people in community organizations struggle to work together.

“People tend to operate in silos, and it's at the detriment of getting people's needs met,” Simms said.

This is an issue she plans to address at this week’s conference, which is titled, “Collaboration in Times of Need.”

“So we're going to just talk about how collaboration doesn't necessarily mean that you have to agree about everything,” Simms said. “But if you don't work collaboratively, people fall through the cracks.”

Simms said working collaboratively also means giving the person you’re trying to help a say in what happens to them.

“It’s a different framework,” she said. “It’s a different model, it’s much more intentional,” but it’s what research shows is the most effective way to help people affected by trauma.

Find more information about the Self-Help Center’s conference online.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman