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COVID-19: United Way of Northern BC sets up relief fund to help most vulnerable

United Way of Northern BC (UWNBC) is continuously working with local social service agencies and partners to determine the social needs emerging in the community as it collectively responds to COVID-19.

After an initial discussion with many different social service agencies across northern B.C., various needs have been identified, particularly for those most vulnerable. While so much is being brought forward, we are notably seeing needs for our seniors, homeless, those struggling with mental health and addictions, and those needing food supports. To enable resources to get to the agencies and people that need it most, UWNBC has initiated a COVID-19 Relief Fund.

“While our regular mission is to be there for the communities we serve, this global crisis has sparked us to do whatever we can in this incredibly challenging time,” said Trista Spencer, Executive Director, UWNBC, in a news release. “As we are driven to help, we know that others are looking to do the same. Our human need to connect and help is strong, but it’s particularly difficult now because of the true need to distance ourselves from others.

“We are reaching out to community partners across northern B.C. to collect information on emerging needs and to share information, and resources so we can come together to do whatever we can to help. Agencies and their clients, the most vulnerable in our communities, need us more right now than ever. We are hoping the COVID-19 Relief Fund we have enabled will give people the opportunity to help in this crisis, getting direct assistance out as rapidly as possible to the people of northern B.C.”

Working with community partners, United Way has identified the following needs, while anticipating they will continue to grow:

Seniors Isolation – this is a long running issue, particularly for our rural and remote region. Unfortunately, the current situation as amplified this exponentially and these seniors don’t just have lack of socialization, they need food, prescriptions and personal care items to sustain a healthy way of being.

Food Security – people need food and we are getting reports of food banks closing or having no food or funding to help. Many programs across the north that need to close due to social distancing, are also the opportunities that people have to get necessary food and care items. This is being reported across the region.

  • Capacity for Community Services – a significant number of responses from communities include a reduction of hours, closures of programs, or complete closure of the service agency. Resources would help them to continue to do their vital work.
  • Mental Health & Addictions – not only is there more stress on the entire population at this time, our population that deals with mental health and additions issues has become particularly vulnerable, especially with their supportive programs needing to close their doors.
  • Volunteer Support – while there are some volunteers moving into isolation, there are others who want to help out. We are hearing that critical programs are at risk because their volunteer support has dropped or completely gone away. We are looking for the opportunities to deploy volunteers where they are needed.

Even in these uncertain times, no one is powerless to make a difference. Small acts, taken together in our community, and across the region, can change the course of the pandemic, bolster those facing economic challenges, and protect the most vulnerable. UWNBC truly hopes that the development of the COVID-19 Relief Fund will help in these efforts.

Please help us make a difference! To donate to the United Way of Northern BC’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, visit the website at unitedwaynbc.ca/donate and select the COVID 19 – Fund.

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