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Neighbours complete 90,000+ volunteer acts for vulnerable seniors during COVID-19

British Columbia Senior's Advocate Isobel Mackenzie was in Prince George attending a seniors housing symposium. Bill Phillips photo
British Columbia Senior’s Advocate Isobel Mackenzie was in Prince George attending a seniors housing symposium.

More than 8,500 local volunteers from across the province are helping out isolated seniors in their neighbourhoods and communities during the global pandemic.

At the end of March, the 211 phone line matching seniors who need help with volunteers who want to help was expanded across B.C. in response to COVID-19. Since then, British Columbians have performed over 90,000 acts of volunteerism, including holding more than 50,000 virtual visits and check-in phone calls, preparing and delivering 14,000 meals, and making almost 11,000 grocery drop offs to seniors.

“Throughout the province, we saw an outpouring of support from friends, neighbours and families as they rallied to get groceries and medications to the elderly,” said Isobel Mackenzie, B.C. seniors advocate. “As this program continues, it will be one of the positive lasting legacies that will come from the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has shown us that we really do care very deeply about our elderly.”

The program is a new partnership between United Way’s Better at Home program, bc211 and the B.C. Government through the Ministry of Health. Through bc211, volunteers who want to help and seniors who need help can register by dialing 2-1-1 or filling in an online form at Seniors can request volunteer help with grocery shopping, meal prep and prescription pick-up or receive friendly check-in call.

“Through the bc211 expansion and our Better at Home partner agencies and all community-based seniors serving organizations, we are able to make sure seniors who are struggling with isolation can receive the basic necessities and support they need,” said Kahir Lalji, Provincial Director, Population Health, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “Because we’re asking everyone to keep close to home, neighbours helping neighbours have been critical during COVID-19. We have been overwhelmed by the incredible support for seniors during this difficult time.”

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