North Shore Emergency Management has launched a website to provide a centralized place for people seeking help during this time to learn more about what resources are available to them.
Connect North Shore was launched by NSEM and the three North Shore municipalities on April 16.
The purpose of the new website is to host an ever-growing list of North Shore resources, social service agencies, charities, and non-profit organizations that can be accessed – remotely or otherwise – as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life.
Importantly, the new website also highlights the ways North Shore agencies have had to alter their usual services as the requirement for physical distancing has forced many organizations to modify their programs or even suspend them entirely, according to Kamilah Charters-Gabanek, a District of North Vancouver employee and NSEM spokeswoman.
That means, for example, someone can go on the website and learn that a place like Family Services of the North Shore isn’t offering its usual counselling services in-person for the time being, but they have transitioned to offering six weeks of free over-the-phone counselling support for those impacted by novel coronavirus.
“The pandemic has affected all areas of our life and a lot of people who perhaps were already in vulnerable positions, it might really be exacerbating those circumstances,” said Charters-Gabanek, adding that due to the ongoing pandemic there might also be people on the North Shore who may not have sought help when it comes to financial assistance or mental-health resources before, but are now looking to access those services for the first time. “We really wanted to create a hub for people.
The online platform is separated into 11 categories highlighting services and supports available to North Shore residents in need of assistance during the pandemic. The resources are separated into categories such as families and childcare, financial and employment assistance, seniors, youth, food, housing and shelter, and more.
When North Shore Emergency Management and its three partner municipalities activated their emergency operations centre last month, one of the first things they identified was the need to support community agencies that help vulnerable populations, according to Charters-Gabanek, adding that could include everything from local non-profits to libraries and rec centres.
“It became apparent that a lot of those spaces are also spaces just for helping perhaps more our vulnerable population, giving them access to things like internet and shower facilities and some of the things that we might take for granted otherwise,” said Charters-Gabanek.
In addition to the Connect North Shore website, and realizing the importance of local libraries when it comes to being gatekeepers of vital community information, Charters-Gabanek said that people can also call any of the three North Shore library systems to speak with staff about services in their community.
As well as being a hub for people looking for help on the North Shore, the online portal also offers resources for those looking to offer help, said Charters-Gabanek, which highlights volunteer opportunities with local social service organizations responding to the pandemic.
Volunteer and donation opportunities highlighted on the website include working with North Shore Community Resources to aid North Shore seniors who need help grocery shopping at this time, or donating blood to Canadian Blood Services, who note there has been a decline in donations as the pandemic has continued.
“We’re updating it every single day with new information,” said Charters-Gabanek.
Visit Connect North Shore at nsem.info/connect.