B.I. Health Centre Foundation, B.I. Community Foundation and a number of other community organizations have come together to create new programs and services to help islanders most affected by COVID-19.
The federal government recently established a $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) to help charities and non-profit organizations adapt and increase frontline services for vulnerable populations during the pandemic. The BI Community Foundation received $40,000 from the ECSF. The question was then how to put those funds to work. The Community Foundation approached the BI Health Centre Foundation, whose mandate includes developing and delivering programs to address the health care needs of the community.
Even though the Health Centre Foundation is focused now on capital fundraising and construction planning, they welcomed this opportunity to begin doing the real work of the health centre. The foundation’s all-volunteer health services committee began soliciting ideas from potential partners.
The end result of this unique community collaboration is a broad menu of services addressing the mental and physical challenges heightened by COVID. Over the next few months the following programs will be designed and delivered for Bowen Islanders in need.
The Health Centre Foundation and the Bowen Island Public Library will be offering technology support for seniors and other vulnerable populations. The need for physical distancing means that many seniors are isolated, unable to connect with their social group or family. For seniors with limited technology skills or equipment, their access to information and resources about COVID-19 has been limited. Other vulnerable populations on Bowen are also regular users of the library and have been unable to access computers and may be unaware of government support available to them or unable to apply for that support. This new program will provide special library hours for seniors plus the needed technical assistance to seniors and other vulnerable populations to find and use online resources that will support them during the pandemic and beyond, including accessing telehealth services.
The Health Centre Foundation and Caring Circle will be partnering to provide financial subsidies for adult one-to-one counseling sessions for those unduly impacted by the COVID pandemic. The program will help to alleviate the stress and anxiety due to crisis-related factors such as financial difficulties because of loss of work, family conflict due to isolation, child care concerns, fears of critical illness of loved ones, and complications when trying to work from home. Counsellors can give those receiving support the tools to deal with mental health issues that if left untreated might negatively impact their loved ones and colleagues.
The Health Centre Foundation and the Bowen Island Municipality Recreation Department will be providing financial subsidies and support for recreation programming for families. This program will increase affordable access to programming for parents who are returning to work and require childcare, or parents who have been home with their children throughout the pandemic and may require some respite. It will provide much needed financial assistance in the aftermath of job loss or wage reductions experienced by families due to the pandemic.
The Health Centre Foundation will be partnering with Bowen Children’s Centre to address how children deal with the trauma of COVID-19. This program will provide two workshops for parents and teachers that will help adults understand how stress presents in children and learn proven strategies to help children deal with the trauma of COVID-19 in an age-appropriate and safe way.
All of these programs are provided in partnership with the Bowen Island Health Centre Foundation and are supported by the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund, Community Foundations of Canada, and the Bowen Island Community Foundation.
Watch for additional information about these programs in the future.