People living in rural and remote communities in the County of Peterborough have historically had challenges accessing the agencies that deliver social services, such as housing, employment children’s support services, because of a lack of affordable transportation options into the city to meet with service providers. Remote meeting options can also be challenging in rural locations due to limited bandwidth and the high cost of smart phones and tablets used in virtual meetings with agencies. Social service agencies have been reluctant to establish satellite locations outside of the city to serve their rural customers due to cost.
A new option has been established to overcome these barriers through the creation of service Hubs located across the Peterborough County. These locations rely on existing infrastructure to provide free office and meeting space for agencies as they deliver services to residents in Peterborough County. In these hub offices, service agencies can meet with clients and offer rural outreach support in a variety of private, rural offices thereby eliminating the need of their clients to come to the Peterborough location of the agency. These offices are expected to help agencies deliver effective services to people living in rural and remote locations. Some Hubs are equipped with a laptop that allow agencies to book appointments for clients to use their local Hub and have an online virtual meeting if staff are unable to travel there in person.
Peterborough County Hubs have been established in Havelock, Apsley, Keene, Warsaw, Douro, Norwood, Millbrook, and Lakefield. Some hubs are located within municipal offices, others in the local Community Care premises while others, including the Millbrook Hub, are connected to township libraries.
The Millbrook Hub is on the second floor of the Old Millbrook School and is accessed through the Millbrook Library. For this reason, bookable hours coincide with the operating hours of this branch. Library staff are not responsible for managing the hub office, which will remain locked while not in use by the service agencies, but the library Wi-Fi service will be available for the office use. This sounds like a cost-efficient way to better serve and engage customers in need. KG