“FOCUS provides an opportunity for us to sit at a table with a number of service providers, including the City of Toronto, United Way, housing agencies, victim services, Toronto Police Service and more. While we’re not a service provider in the same way, we interact with our community regularly and are able to notice patterns and trends. This allows us to highlight cases where coordinated intervention may be the best path forward. ” - Cameron
As a crime prevention and community engagement specialist, Marc delivers much of the training offered by the department, and meets regularly with victims of crime on our campus to provide support and resources. Working as a risk assessment specialist, Cameron focuses on safety planning and conducts violence risk assessments.
Having both worked in a variety of roles at Ryerson from patrol staff to medical responder and more, Marc and Cameron are familiar with the landscape of Ryerson’s campus and its community. By developing relationships with our community members, frontline staff are able to notify Marc and Cameron when they think someone may be eligible for the program. Marc and Cameron then meet with the individuals to assess if their situations fit the criteria of FOCUS. The goal is to identify situations where there is acutely elevated risk, where either chronic conditions have accumulated or new circumstances now mean that crisis is imminent.
After meeting with the individuals to better understand their background and gain their consent, Marc and Cameron bring the case forward to FOCUS. All information is de-identified and together the agencies decide who is best suited to take part in an intervention.
“We need to think about why people are frequenting our campus. For example: it’s 3 a.m. and someone is seeking shelter in one of our buildings in winter and we can see they’re underdressed. It’s not a good solution to tell them they can’t be here but not provide any real solutions or services. FOCUS has led to strengthened relationships with support services in the area.” - Marc
As Cameron and Marc both stressed, FOCUS is in line with Community Safety and Security’s mandate to keep Ryerson’s campus safe. It provides a valuable avenue to look at root causes to better serve our community. It’s been empowering for the frontline staff to be able to take more time, to learn more about people and their backgrounds, knowing that there are avenues for continued support or intervention.
By building these relationships with community partners, the frontline team can in turn create positive relationships with our community members and experience a positive side to work that can often feel daunting. Even if a scenario doesn’t necessarily meet the threshold to be reviewed by FOCUS, the team has a longer list of numbers and referring services they can call on or refer to. They’ve also been able to coordinate campus walk-throughs and outreach with support agencies, which has been extremely valuable.
“It provides a morale boost for staff and sets an example for frontline security to know this model can be successful; that there are ways to do this type of work respectfully and successfully. It’s an example that’s especially valuable for security staff who may plan to go on to social work, policing, corrections or paramedics,” echoed Cameron.
“The societal issues that impact Ryerson cannot be solved by one institution or support service alone. Part of being a city builder is working with other organizations to support community members, whether they’re Ryerson-affiliated or not.” - Denise Campbell
We’re located at the busiest intersection in Canada and being in the heart of downtown Toronto means that the societal issues surrounding us can impact our community as well.
Marc and Cameron joined FOCUS in 2018 and have seen real results on some of the cases they’ve presented. Both shared that they can’t emphasize enough the value of participating in a program like this and how well it fits with Ryerson’s values. By taking a holistic approach, they’re able to provide safety and security services that are respectful, resource-driven and that create real change.
What’s one thing you can’t live without in the morning?
Tea or iced coffee in the summer
What do you like doing during your commute to work?
I listen to music from the time I’m out the door until I step foot in the office
Listen to a documentary or motivational speaker
Favourite vacation spot?
The East Coast
Any pets at home?
One cat and one dog
Two cats and eight fish
Android or iPhone?