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, vulnerable people in Stratford and area have the chance for a brighter future including…

  • 1,068 people with mobility issues accessed transportation
  • 616 participants in food skills programming
  • 534 individuals benefited from access to YMCA passes
  • 388 people in crisis accessed financial support
  • 184 men accessed post-incarceration supports
  • 32 children who witnessed violence counselled 
  • 20 at-risk youth accessed housing and supports


Lack of Housing: A single bedroom rental is over $1,200/mo. 142 people are experiencing homelessness in Stratford, St. Marys and Perth County.

 Low Income: About half of people with incomes in Perth-Huron earn less than a living wage ($37,674 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 564 calls related to intimate partner violence in 2022.

 Food Insecurity: 1 in 6 Canadian children live in a food insecure household. 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, Alan has the support he needs:

After suffering for years with chronic mental health issues, Alan found found himself without a home. As life became more desperate, and his frustrations grew trying to navigate the service system himself to find a place to stay, Alan reached out for help. Once he found his way to a local United Way Connection Centre, the compassionate staff were able to advocate for him and work to connect him to the right programs so he could finally get off the streets and into a home to call his own.

Now, Alan is doing better. Thanks to a United Way Perth-Huron Connection Centre, he has a stable home and can focus on building a brighter future for himself.

And so does Clarice:

Clarice was struggling to get her life back on track when she arrived at the local Connection Centre. With each visit, the caring staff built a relationship with her and she shared her story. Clarice revealed she was struggling with an abusive partner and wasn’t sure where to turn. Staff put her in touch with the services she needed to help find a place to live, a job and mental health supports.

Now, Clarice is doing better. She continues working on improving her mental health and has her own apartment. Clarice is giving back too! She volunteers at the Connection Centre, helping sustain the sense of caring and community she felt from the first moment she arrived.

Stratford Connection Centre

In an effort to tackle the #UNIGNORABLE issue of chronic homelessness 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

United Way Perth-Huron’s Community Renewal Company is the region’s first entrepreneurial not-for-profit affordable housing provider. The Community Renewal Company will build and operate housing for people experiencing homelessness, people of low income, and people able to pay market rates, creating sustainable developments where residents of all backgrounds live together.

Urgent Needs Fund

388 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:


Where would you turn if this happened to you?

Nari was busy with her two young daughters, juggling two part-time jobs and the challenges that come with being a working mom. Grandma Elisa was the glue of the household, always ready to pick up a sick child from school, do a grocery run, drop off kids at a play date with friends or start dinner when Nari worked late.

Things were tight, but the family of four made it work.

During a visit to her doctor, Elisa received a diagnosis that changed everything: macular degenerative disease. Elisa needed to get to important doctor’s appointments, so Nari had to cancel some shifts to support her mom. Consequently, she didn’t have enough to cover the bills that month. Where could Nari turn?

Stratford & Area Community Committee

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

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


Supported Partners

211 CMHA Perth-Huron Community Outreach Services Emily Murphy Centre
Family Services Perth-Huron Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre Huron Women’s Shelter John Howard Society
Local Community Food Centre  Shelterlink Youth Services Stratford Connection Centre Stratford Pride Community Centre
United Centre YMCA of Three Rivers Youth in Action Grants  Leads
(United Centre Tenant)
Legal Aid Ontario
(United Centre Tenant)
Stratford Symphony Orchestra
(United Centre Tenant)

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