On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. Since then, public health, several municipal departments, social services agencies, community groups, and United Way of Chatham-Kent have come together to ensure we are able to continue to support those most in need in our community. Grassroots groups have formed. Neighbours are helping neighbours. Volunteers are stepping up. Everyone has an important role to play.
“We know many people in Chatham-Kent cannot afford to prepare, and do not have a support system around them if they contract COVID-19 or need to self-isolate”, said Steve Pratt, Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Chatham-Kent. “We are already experiencing how quickly the situation is evolving; we need to ensure that the most vulnerable are supported. We know firsthand that when we all work together, we can make a difference. That is why we are asking the community for their support by showing their local love in a global crisis.”
Working with community partners, United Way has identified the following needs, while anticipating they will continue to grow:
- Help for seniors-- ensure that while vulnerable people are isolated, they are also supported
- Basic needs-- ensure people have access to life's essentials, such as food
- Capacity for community services-- ensure that community partners can continue to do their vital local work
- Mental health support– ensure people know where and how to access help through supporting system navigation services, like 2-1-1
- Support for volunteers-- there are amazing people rallying to support others -- they need our help too.
"While public health authorities and local hospitals -- doctors, nurses and other front-line staff -- have been working to prepare for COVID-19 cases across our region, it is important to work with partners like United Way and others to ensure local social services can offer support where it is needed," said Dr. David Colby, Medical Officer of Health of the CK Public Health Unit. “As the situation evolves, so too will the needs in the community. While people care for their families and those closest to them, we urge you to think of those who may need extra support to prepare, or those who need support while in self-isolation.”
United Way has launched ckgives.ca to help with coordination efforts and raise emergency funds for those most vulnerable. The site will provide information and referral, a way to help connect those wanting to volunteer with the front-line agencies and community groups looking for volunteers, as well as allow for people to make a donation to support those most in need.
“We will continue to work closely with key partners, including health authorities, community organizations, front-line agencies and newly created volunteer groups as they emerge, by investing to support the communities we serve in this time of great need," said Steve Pratt. "It is our role to aid in the ongoing support of our community, and to ensure that vulnerable populations are not left behind."