Local Love in a Global Crisis Fund in Action: United Way’s First Funded Programs in Response to COVID-19

May 11, 2020 / by United Way

Greater Victoria is a caring community and we continue to demonstrate that together, we are stronger. Through every crisis, we take a stand to make sure that no one is left behind and that everyone is taken care of. We rally together for the well-being of our families, loved ones, and neighbours.

When COVID-19 hit our community, United Way launch the Local Love in a Global Crisis fund to deal with emerging needs facing our valuable social safety net. We are proud to announce on May 11, 2020, in less than two months we raised $1.2 million thanks to support from individuals, businesses and government partnerships. All donations will stay local to improve lives. As we move from response to recovery and eventually return to the resiliency that continues to make our region great, we appreciate all the donor support to date.

Our funded community partners are hard at work on the frontlines and their staff are often risking their own health and safety to support our most vulnerable citizens. Here’s a list of recent examples of how your support is allowing our partners to pivot to address community needs right now:

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) – As dedicated social workers, BBBS’ staff will be given the tools to expand their skills in addressing the anxiety, depression, and mental health challenges of children and youth through digital platforms, while continuing to make sure that the families of the children they serve as well have the tools and skills they need to communicate at this time.

Bridges for Women – This program supports Bridges for Women’s transition to remote services, including the delivery of online programs and counselling services, the removal of technological barriers, and the provision of individual support for clients as required.

Coalition of Neighbourhood Houses – This program supports the Coalition in expanding counselling services to their individual communities, providing clients with cell phone data, internet access, or hardware to allow them to better access mental health services while equipping front-line staff with the tools needed to provide mental health services remotely.

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – This initiative will help deploy a highly trained field team to proactively call seniors in the CRD affected by a blood cancer in order to conduct a reassurance check-in and evaluate the individual’s needs.

NEED2 Suicide Prevention Education & Support – This initiative re-instates NEED2’s Youthspace Follow Up which enables youth under 30 at risk of self-injury or suicide to have a follow-up conversation which volunteers and staff between 6 – 9 p.m. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff were re-allocated to provide essential frontline services to youth while supporting volunteers working remotely in order to follow social-distancing protocols.

Pacific Centre Family Services – This initiative supports Pacific Centre Family Services to continue to offer all of their essential programs, including substance use counselling, support and education for victims and perpetrators of family violence, youth and family counselling, parenting support, and services for socially isolated seniors via Telehealth.

Pacific Training Centre for the Blind – Funding provides training to students via telephone and teleconferencing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instructors are teaching students individually via telephone calls for core subjects and are focusing on life skills and tasks that people can do at home.

Power To Be – Funding supports Power To Be to connect with their participants and community partners in the absence of their traditional nature-based recreation activities due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Survive and Thrive program – Funding helps non-profits and social enterprises create a path to recovery post COVID-19 through a new online program collaboration with Scale Collaborative.

United Way Greater Victoria’s Neighbourhood Response Team – Product drives including funds for tarps and tents for the homeless (over 600 items collected) and funds for hygiene products for shelters, transitional homes, food banks, low-income senior facilities, schools, Indigenous communities and refugees (over 25,000 items collected). Partnerships include Hero Works, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Soap for Hope.

Victoria Brain Injury Society – This initiative allows for Victoria Brain Injury Society’s Advanced Brain Injury 101, Coping Skills, Family Support Group, Music Therapy and Music Drop-In, and drop-in Peer Support programs to move online to a virtual platform.

Victoria Sexual Assault Centre – This initiative will help the Sexual Assault Centre reduce their client waitlist as well as navigate the communication and support barriers created by the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing a video communications platform and acquiring the necessary equipment to carry out services.

Youth Empowerment Society – This initiative supports the Youth Empowerment Society in providing online counselling sessions for clients through a telehealth portal (doxy.me) that allows them to access their YES counsellor in a confidential manner that does not require them to download any apps.