Thursday, March 4, 2021

United Way teaming up with partners to support COVID-19 response

The United Way of Chatham-Kent is working with various partners to support the community response during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These are challenging and uncertain times,” United Way officials said in a press release.

“Community connections matter; especially in times of crisis. The research is clear and consistent: The stronger the sense of connection – when local people work together in a united way – the more resilient the community.”

In order to do this, United Way of Chatham-Kent is assisting in coordinating the collective efforts by working with government, businesses, front-line workers, community groups, and those most impacted, to identify rapidly emerging needs and trends, United Way officials stated.

In response to COVID-19, United Way is collaborating with the Municipality of Chatham-Kent to help connect Chatham-Kent’s network of agencies to the emergency response plans, United Way officials say.

“United Way of Chatham-Kent has the knowledge, ability and experience to bring together those who need help with those who can help in this challenging time,” stated Mayor Darrin Canniff, in a press release.

Across Chatham-Kent, United Way is working with a network of charities, organizations and grassroots initiatives to identify and respond to the gaps, needs, trends and opportunities that are emerging locally, United Way officials stated.

“When we collectively work together, we can ensure that there are services out to help people in this community and to prevent duplication or fracturing of existing supports,” stated Steve Pratt, CEO of United Way of
Chatham-Kent, in a media release.

“We want to encourage anyone reacting to the needs – including the GoFundMe pages, and community cheerleaders spreading local love – to join in the coordinated efforts of COVID-19 Community Response. By working together, we can ensure that forgotten areas in our community are not left behind and we are better prepared for the community’s rapidly emerging needs.”

United Way officials say needs are evolving day-by-day, with the most pressing needs being:

Basic Needs – access to life’s essentials, such as food, cleansers and hygiene products, or other resources essential to helping the most vulnerable stay healthy.

Help for Seniors – to support those who are already vulnerable as they are isolated. Dollars can be put to work supporting activities such as virtual programming, telephone check ins, low-risk engagement activities, transportation, and basic needs product delivery for those who are self-isolating.

Capacity and stability for community services – so community partners can continue their vital local work. We know that some of our community’s front-line service providers – charities, nonprofits, and grassroots community groups – are providing services that have never been more important, and they are seeing a significant increase in demand. Dollars can be mobilized to help those organizations maintain services should
volunteers and staff need to self-isolate, or they become unavailable. Funds can also be used to scale up the most important services and programs needed to support a larger population, or expanded geographic area. This includes supporting those struggling with homelessness, the precariously housed, and other vulnerable populations.

Mental Health Support – enabling crisis lines and system navigation services that benefit us all. Services such as youth and adult mental health crisis lines, 211, and other virtual and online crisis and mental health supports have already seen an increase in use. Together, we can help these vital programs meet the growing needs for mental health and crisis supports and scale up, as needed, during this stressful time.

Support for Volunteers – there are amazing people rallying to support others—they need our help too. Funds can be used to engage and deploy volunteers where they are most needed, and provide them with information and resources like hand sanitizers, masks and disinfectant products that they need to help in a safe way.

United Way officials say funding raised through CKgives.ca, local philanthropists and all levels government will address these pressing needs as they emerge and will be prioritized through a human and social stabilization lens in a three-tiered approach.

This will allow the resources available to be distributed to:

Tier 1: Emergency Response – supporting critical needs unavailable through other means providing access to things like food, safe transportation, medication, social and mental health supports, and COVID-19 risk management within a 48 hour response.

Tier 2: Social Distancing Support – supporting the urgent needs through discovery of new ways to reach out to our community’s most vulnerable, like connecting through remote access videoconferencing within a two week response.

Tier 3: Rebuilding Community and Social Capital – supporting the future longer-term impacts as those needs begin to emerge and helping our community adjust to the new ‘normal’ post COVID-19.

United Way officials say an example of this work in action is the development of the COVID-19 CK Student Nutrition Food Assistance Fund.

By working with CK Public Heath United Way is able to develop strategies to get the basic necessities of groceries into the home of families needing food now.

“With the announcement of school closures, school staff and community partners brought forward their concerns of how these closures would impact the students, especially those who are most vulnerable,” stated Jennelle Arnew, chair of the CK Student Nutrition Community Partnership.

“Since the announcement, we have worked alongside many community agencies to create a food assistance fund to help families with school-aged children who need financial support for food. With all of our schools having a student nutrition program, we are fortunate to reallocate funds that would typically go to schools and create a community registry so families can access assistance with purchasing groceries during this very difficult time.”

For people wanting to participate in the Chatham-Kent COVID-19 Community Response sign-up for volunteer initiatives, donate or request help are asked to visit CKgives.ca.

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