Bridge Engagement Centre
The Bridge is a community research office in downtown Ottawa that works in partnership with people who are experiencing poverty, homelessness, and/or who self-identify as People Who Use Drugs.
The Bridge conducts Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR) under the auspices of The Ottawa Hospital, The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and The University of Ottawa. The aim of the Centre is to co-create innovative evidence based sustainable solutions addressing the root causes of poor health – namely isolation, mental illness, poverty, and trauma. Ultimately to realize the full potential of people and improve the health and well-being of vulnerable communities, in addition to reducing health care system costs.
The Bridge members operationalized the Ottawa Citizen Engagement and Action Model (OCEAM). The OCEAM model (read more here) uses a Patients First approach to ensure the meaningful engagement of people with lived experience (peer researchers). Community (peer) researchers are involved in all Bridge projects and participate in project conception, design, implementation, and dissemination of findings. Community based health projects at The Bridge occur at 225 Donald St (The Bridge Engagement Centre) which is adjacent to Ottawa’s largest homeless shelter.
The Centre (225 Donald St) is now recognized as where projects happen ‘by the people, for & with the people’.
I really feel like I belong somewhere, I do not like to call it a program, it is a group. Program feels like something forced upon you, this is so welcoming, I feel like coming here and I get help.
I didn’t realize that smoking had such a large effect on my breathing and general health. Now that I think about it everyone who uses also smokes cigarettes.
The Bridge is a key part of my journey. The programs support my recovery from substance use and isolation. Projects at The Bridge have helped many of my peers reduce or quit smoking and other substances, including opioids such as fentanyl.