Safe Shops partners with health centers, community groups, and other City agencies to provide health resources, referrals to care, and other assistance to workers, business owners, and community neighbors to address health disparities in communities that are overburdened with toxic chemical exposure.
The Safe Shops Project formed partnerships based upon environmental health, enforcement, and community. The public health entities (Boston Public Health Commission / partnering health centers) have the ability and resources to develop educational materials and help workers and community access health care and other resources. The community groups have the ability to raise awareness within the neighborhoods, conduct outreach with the workers and refer them back to the health centers and even help identify problem shops that need intervention. And finally, the enforcement partners (Inspectional Services Department) have the authority to gain access to shops that might turn other Safe Shops partners away and the experience to identify environmental or other violations. This three pronged approach is outlined in the diagram below:
Identifying community and governmental partners has been ongoing. There were some partnerships that occurred naturally, such as working with the Inspectional Services Department who complement the process by inspecting auto shops and ensuring they meet environmental standards. Others, such as Bowdoin Street Health Center, had long been deeply interested in the environmental impact that clusters of shops had on neighborhood health.
One of the unfortunate aspects of working with and identifying community partners is their changes in staff, lack of resources or shifting priorities. This has brought fluidity to the Safe Shops partnership. At one point, the Safe Shops Project sent out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to community groups.