Local seniors affected by the coronavirus crisis will get a much-needed boost today, thanks to the new Seniors Response Fund deployed by United Way Elgin Middlesex with assistance from the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program.
Local social service agencies CMHA and the Community Support Services Network received almost $120,000 combined to meet urgent needs for low income seniors 55+ across the region, including food, basic supplies and social connection. In total, $9 million in Federal funds are being distributed by United Ways across Canada proportionally based on the local population of seniors 55+.
“As we care for our families and those closest to us, we see many seniors in our community who don’t have a support system around them,” says Kelly Ziegner, President & CEO, United Way Elgin Middlesex. “Today’s funding will help ensure that the most vulnerable do not get pushed further into the margins during this crisis.”
“While physical distancing is essential to protecting seniors from COVID-19, it risks isolating them from their community. That is why the Government of Canada is proud to work with United Way Canada to help support the needs of seniors during this difficult time.”
Cheshire London and VON Middlesex-Elgin, lead agencies for the Community Support Services Network, will share $110,000 to provide basic needs to low income or isolated seniors 55+ in London and Middlesex County and St. Thomas and Elgin County, respectively. Community Support Pandemic Funds in each county will be accessed through the Community Support Services Central Intake system which ensures that seniors are connected to the right supports and services close to home, including grocery delivery, prepared meals and transportation.
CMHA received almost $10,000 to start the Friendly Callers–Senior Support Program to provide social connection and linking to local services for seniors across the region. Volunteers will provide friendly weekly calls and referrals to services and supports, including virtual social and recreation programming.
“The pandemic has been especially hard on seniors, many of whom are isolated from family and friends,” says Lori Hassall, Director of Crisis and Short-term Interventions at CMHA Middlesex, noting that the organization’s Support Line is seeing a 43% increase in calls, including daily calls from seniors. “Social connection is the antidote to loneliness.” Funding will allow the organization to recruit experienced staff and get the word out to callers and volunteers. The new program goes live immediately.
“While physical distancing is essential to protecting seniors from COVID-19, it risks isolating them from their community,” says The Honorable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors. “That is why the Government of Canada is proud to work with United Way Canada to help support the needs of seniors during this difficult time. By using local expertise, this funding will help provide support tailored to the unique, local needs of seniors across the country. As we work together to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus, the government is supporting Canadians every step of the way.”
To date, United Way Elgin Middlesex has facilitated more than $1 million in COVID-19 recovery efforts through government grants such as the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, charitable giving and future pledges. Visit Local Love in a Global Crisis for details, donation announcements and how to get help or give help.
About the New Horizons for Seniors Program
The New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) provides grants and contributions for projects that help improve the well-being of seniors and foster their social inclusion. To provide immediate essential services to seniors impacted by COVID-19, the Government of Canada is providing $9 million under the NHSP to be distributed through United Way Canada network. These funds will help organizations providing support to seniors dealing with the impact of COVID-19.
See United Way Elgin Middlsex’s COVID-19 and New Horizons for Seniors grant summary
COVID-19 help for seniors 55+
St. Thomas & Elgin EN | FR
COVID-19 help for seniors 55+
London & Middlesex EN|FR