Tuesday, March 2, 2021

United Way continues to identify needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Since the start of flattening the curve in Chatham-Kent, United Way has been collaborating with Chatham-Kent’s network of charities, organizations and grassroots initiatives to identify and respond to the gaps, needs, trends and opportunities that emerge locally in response to COVID-19.

“When we collectively work together, we are ensuring that services are helping people in this community and preventing duplication or fracturing of existing supports,” stated Steve Pratt, CEO of United Way of Chatham-Kent, in a press release.

“By our collective efforts we are all gaining a better insight into identifying the emerging needs and trends happening locally within our six priority populations. Like forecasting the weather, the discussions are giving all of us a better idea on how to prepare week to week.”

When local people work together in a united way – the more resilient the community, United Way officials say.

At these conversations, an average of 50 front-line workers, community groups, and those most impacted are collaborating to address the needs of seven of those most impacted by COVID-19.

These groups were identified as populations that were most at risk of being pushed further into the margins, or ones who had a higher than average chance of contracting COVID-19.

They include people who identify as the Poverty and the A.L.I.C.E. Group (A.L.I.C.E. is an acronym for Assets Limited, Income Constrained and Employed and represent the population which is often dubbed ‘The Working Poor’), Indigenous peoples, people experiencing homelessness, vulnerable youth, seniors, people affected by child and partner violence and people experiencing food insecurity.

United Way officials say the most pressing needs are:

– Help with basic needs, financial recovery, and emotional supports; as government emergency relief benefits will be ending in the next month for a large population of people who recently became unemployed due to COVID-19.

– COVID-19 has hit Chatham-Kent’s senior population and organizations are seeing how it has taken a toll on their health. Seniors in crisis are being urged to take advantage of available supports. Seniors needing immediate help are advised to dial 211, day or night, or their toll free number 1-877-330-3213 if you are using a pay as you go phone.

– Organizations working with people experiencing intimate partner or child violence are seeing an increase in referrals. They wish to let the public know that they are still open to support you and remain committed to ensuring your safety, wellbeing, and privacy.

– Groups working to meet the needs of the homeless are looking at opportunities to keep moving forward; however, they forecast a need for donations of fans, air units and money as there may be limited cooling stations in Chatham-Kent. Those wishing to provide a donation of a gently used fan or air conditioner are asked to call Neighbour Link at 519-352-5647.

– Children, youth and young adults need to keep active for their own physical and mental health. Planning is underway for free virtual backyard camp activities, groups, fun events and workshops for the whole family this summer. Stay tuned for more details.

Organizations wishing to join in on the discussions are asked to sign-up on ckgives.ca or call Scott at the United Way of Chatham-Kent office at 519-354-0430 ext. 232.

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