Supporting the community in the face of COVID-19
COVID-19 has changed life in Calgary since early March. People are working from home if they can. Shops and services are closed, except for essential services. The latest trends are self-isolating and physical distancing. While the streets may be quiet, The City of Calgary has been working hard on response efforts and helping to support people to stop the spread by connecting them to social supports and community resources.
Since March 12, City staff have been addressing issues including access to food, and neighbourhood supports and services for groups like newcomers, seniors, low-income families and Indigenous people. As the weeks have stretched on, more issues have been identified for staff to address. As buildings and businesses closed, social disorder increased. As people were spending more time in isolation, the need for emotional wellness supports became apparent. When services like the Youth Employment Centre, AfterSchool programs, and Fair Entry were halted, City staff found ways to provide those services in new ways. Staff have been agile, responsive and creative throughout The City's response to this pandemic.
The City has also been working with community partners on identifying resources and connecting those resources with the people who need them most. For example, City staff worked with volunteers from Fresh Routes to support Care Connect with food hamper deliveries in the northeast - where the need is currently the biggest. Volunteers have also been matched from a local church with Care Connect to help with food bank deliveries out of Centre Street Church, as this is also a difficult spot to fill with volunteers.
"The incredibly generous spirit of Calgarians has surfaced as one of the most inspiring aspects of living in this great city during this time of unknowns and significant change," says Lorelei Higgins, Issues Strategist in Calgary Neighbourhoods, now leading the work that is connecting resources with those who need them. "It has been overwhelming to see the abundant offers of support. Daily, I am reminded that we are a city of assets. There are many needs at this time, but it is uplifting to remember that through connecting in community, we are truly in this together."
Over 800 activity kits have also been created for low-income families, with a plan to safely deliver these kits ensuring that physical distancing and other health protocols were followed. The City recently launched a new website that has information about all the programs, services, and goods in the community that are available during this pandemic from all levels of government and local community organizations.
The City of Calgary has been working to keep citizens safe, to flatten the curve during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now we are focusing on supporting our community with innovative program and service delivery so that Calgarians can come through this together.
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