211 AND ADVOCACY
Phoning 211, or visiting ab.211.ca, is a useful first step for those needing assistance. Community resource specialists search for appropriate resources nearest to the caller. Inquire about advocacy when you call, as navigating through community and government programs can be stressful. For example, Edmonton’s CMHA office provides assistance with filling out AISH applications.
Calls to information services at 211 have increased 30 percent over the previous year according to Emma Potter, Director of Crisis and Navigation Support Services at the Canadian Mental Health Association. “There are challenges with mental health, isolation, loneliness and meeting basic needs,” Potter said.
The pandemic has certainly challenged many of us in many ways. Financial issues, eviction, anxiety, stress, and loneliness can feel catastrophic, and when you are in crisis, navigating ways to get support can be difficult. But help is available and we’ve gathered some resources for you.
In addition to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, those searching for financial aid can seek provincial assistance from Alberta Works. The Emergency Needs Allowance can be used for utilities, eviction payments, and more. Phone 780-415-4900 or visit Community Social Services.
For basic needs, Leftovers Rescue Food has a Fresh Deliveries program which operates on a pay what you want model. Phone 780-809-1962 or visit RescueFood.ca.
Seniors looking for groceries and prescriptions to be delivered at no cost can find help from BagHalfFull.com. The service was created by Canadian medical students to help those who cannot leave the house.
The Seniors Friendly Calling Program from the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton (Sage) is an option for those who want some human connection. Phone 780-423-5510 and choose extension five to be added to the call list.
Self-isolation, closures, and the limiting of in-person interactions makes mental wellness a top concern. From March to December, the main issues for callers on the Edmonton Distress Line were mental health and loneliness. An excellent resource is DropInYeg.ca. The page provides locations for single-session counselling. During the pandemic, therapy is provided over the phone. Those with insurance should phone 780-424-0294 or visit PsychologistsAssociation.AB.ca in order to use the Psychologist Referral Service.
If you would like to contribute to the community, volunteering is still happening within many organizations. For example, phone 780-701-9014 or visit ConnectingEdmontonSeniors.ca to help make friendly calls to seniors.
CMHA is also accepting volunteer applications. Potter said this will become more important as in-person activities begin resuming later this year. To learn more visit edmonton.cmha.ca.
VolunteerConnector.org is a page where you can search for opportunities using a variety of filters including time commitment and remote volunteering.
Finally, if volunteering is not an option, consider donating to community organizations. Like the people of our neighbourhoods, organizations have also been affected by the pandemic as fundraising events have been cancelled. CMHA, Bag-Half- Full, Leftovers Rescue Food, and Sage are all supported by donations.