Stratford and Area

Stratford & Area

Together we improve lives through support for basic needs, service connection, advocacy, research and cultivating innovative initiatives.

United Way Perth-Huron helps here in the community you care about. Thanks to United Way, its partners and donors, over 10,000 vulnerable people in Stratford and area have the chance for a brighter future including…

  • 3.913 people visited local food banks and aid agencies to access food
  • 853 seniors accessed transportation
  • 422 people in crisis accessed financial support
  • 417 individuals benefited from access to YMCA passes
  • 401 participants in food skills programming
  • 105 men accessed post-incarceration supports
  • 67 at-risk youth accessed housing and supports
  • 44 children who witnessed violence counselled 


Lack of Housing: A single bedroom rental is over $1,200/mo. 171 people are experiencing homelessness in Stratford, St. Marys and Perth County.

 Low Income: 57% of people with incomes in Perth-Huron earn less than a living wage ($35,262 annually).

 Mental Health: By the time Canadians reach the age of 40, 1 in 2 have experienced a mental illness.

 Access to Services: Navigating the local social service network is challenging, especially for our most vulnerable.

 Intimate Partner Violence: Stratford/St. Marys police received 586 calls related to intimate partner violence in 2021.

 Food Insecurity: 4,820 families in Perth County are food insecure. Food prices rose 7.4% in one year.


Holistic Approach

United Way is committed to cultivating innovative initiatives addressing root causes of local social issues. We research and advocate for a living wage, affordable housing and improved social assistance rates and services.

We also understand that long-term goals don’t solve the challenges of a person facing eviction next week, or the parent with empty cupboards and hungry children right now. To that end, we also fundraise and invest in programs to help ensure people get the immediate help they need.


Changing Local Lives

Thanks to United Way and a supported partner, Walt has the support he needs:

Walt needed a helping hand. Faced with eviction and a loss of services, he reached out to a connection centre in his community. Once there, he found a welcoming environment with staff and volunteers who were willing to to help. The housing stability worker negotiated with Walt’s landlord to allow him to temporarily stay in his home while other staff worked on finding alternate housing and supports.

Now, Walt is doing better thanks to United Way and a supported partner. He looks forward to finding a new place to live and continuing his journey out of homelessness.

Stratford Connection Centre

Partly as a result of rising housing costs, homelessness increased by 60% during the pandemic. In an effort to tackle this #UNIGNORABLE issue in Stratford, a drop-in space opened for those experiencing homelessness or otherwise vulnerable. 

The Stratford Connection Centre offers wrap-around supports including trauma-informed care, substance use and mental health counselling, as well as basic needs such as showers, laundry and food. Services are client-centred, providing dignity and choice with an unrelenting focus on securing permanent housing.


Meet basic needs. A place to use a washroom and shower. Have a cup of coffee with access to clean water, and/or an indoor space out of the cold or heat.

Build social ties. Build trust with service providers and volunteers, leading to opportunities for more formal supports.

Connect to social services. Volunteers and staff can help clients navigate entry into formal support with existing agencies.

Build pathways out of poverty that provide dignity and choice, empowering clients.


The Connection Centre is an important project for vulnerable local people. It will provide an opportunity beyond offering a warm place to sit or take a shower — although that’s certainly important — the centre also offers the possibility of longer-term change for people in need. We’re happy to be working together with our partners to make this plan a reality.

– Choices for Change Executive Director
Catherine Hardman

The City of Stratford is proud to be working with United Way and Choices for Change on this project. We see the challenges faced by local people in need. The Connection Centre is a collaborative approach that allows us to address the ongoing issue of homelessness in an innovative way. Ideally, we will see long-term permanent housing solutions through these efforts.

Director of Social Services for the City of Stratford
Kim McElroy

Community Renewal Company

The Community Renewal Company initial focus is developing and operating affordable rental supply, supportive housing options and innovation in social service access and delivery, including community hubs. The renewal company will also play a critical role in the community development ecosystem, supporting and building relationships between non-profit service providers and their supporters and advocates

Urgent Needs Fund

422 local residents accessed assistance

The Urgent Needs Fund is designed to support local residents in a time of crisis with funds for essentials such as rent, groceries, car repairs, medication and child care. United Way is also working for long-term change, lifting people beyond poverty while still ensuring their immediate, basic needs are met:


Gayle was busy with her two young sons, always juggling her two part time jobs and all the challenges that come with being a young mom. Grandma Betty was the glue of the family, always ready to pick up a sick child from school, run an errand, drop off kids at a play date or start dinner when Gayle worked late. Things were tight, but the family of four made it work. Then Betty’s increasing fatigue was explained through a dire diagnosis. The family’s world turned upside down. Gayle decreased her work schedule to care for her mom, but the bills started to stack up in the corner of the kitchen.

Stratford & Area Community Committee

Marian de Wever (Chair) Marilyn Holmes (Vice-chair) Ellen Barnett Becky Blowes Rebecca Cunningham-Dunlop
Gail Fricker Chris Schroer Tim Veal    

–> United Way Perth-Huron Manager Community Development, Stratford & Area: Elizabeth Cooper


  Stratford & Area cover graphic

Stratford & Area Impact (PDF)


Supported Partners

Community Outreach Services ConnectYouth Perth-Huron Emily Murphy Centre Family Services Perth-Huron
Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre iVolunter Perth-Huron John Howard Society of London & District Local Community Food Centre
myPerthHuron ONE CARE Home & Community Support Services Social Research & Planning Council Stratford Connection Centre 
Stratford/Perth Shelterlink 211 United Centre YMCA of Three Rivers
Youth in Action Grant Leads
(United Centre Tenant)
Legal Aid Ontario
(United Centre Tenant)
Stratford Symphony Orchestra
(United Centre Tenant)


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