United Way Social Research and Planning Council bridges information gap

Kristin Crane - Director, Social Research and Planning Council, United Way Perth Huron Photo courtesy of United Way Perth Huron

The Director of the United Way Perth Huron’s Social Research and Planning Council told Huron County council recently that the services they provide can be very difficult for rural communities to access.

“So we’re a separate program that receives funding from the United Way, but also municipal partners through applications for grants and such, to conduct the local research and then the social planning piece within our community,” Kristin Crane explained.

Crane pointed out this is usually information that is very accessible to major cities because the government collects that information for them. But she said it is a lot more difficult for rural communities to find.

“When you’re in a rural area, such as Perth or Huron, access to data isn’t so simple. When you’re in a major city centre, it’s easy to collect that information. The government does it for you, but the more rural you are, the harder it is to find that information,” Crane said.

Crane has been surprised by the number of community organizations who are able to use the information they can provide. She says one example could be a local doctors office “where they’re conducting a needs assessment for the population that they serve, so they want to create programs that reflect the population.”

“So they’ll come to us and say can you give us some information on who makes up our population and what changes have their been. We’d like to reflect it with our programming,” Crane explained.

Crane said they’re also hearing from a lot of community groups that are looking at strategic planning after COVID and they’re looking for help in identifying priorities or community organizations that are applying for grants and need data to support their grant application.

Social Research and Planning Council has become the go to source of information for rural communities that can’t get that information anywhere else.