February 9, 2021
Update to Community Program Match Outings
Dear Big Brothers Community,
In response to the extension to the order and restrictions by the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), we would like to address our current plans for Community matches. The safety and well-being of families and volunteers is still our greatest priority. We remain committed to our mission of enabling impactful mentoring relationships where children and youth can discover their power and potential, in collaboration with our local communities. We are here for you, our families, our volunteers, our community, and we will come out of this together.
Until further notice, Community-Based Mentoring matches (Big Brothers and Big Sisters) will continue to be permitted to meet in person. Guidelines and rules cited in previous updates remain the same and can be found below.
- Reminder: In-person meetings in personal residences are no longer permitted at this time.
- Indoor spaces, like shopping malls, where social distancing can be observed are still permitted.
- Meeting virtually, by phone, and alternate ways of connecting continue to be strongly recommended over in-person meetings.
- The use of non-medical masks during in-person outings continue to be mandatory until further notice.
For the latest information, please visit the provincial webpage on province-wide restrictions: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/restrictions
How do Matches continue to meet in person safely?
The PHO has limited interactions to those in your immediate household or core bubble. Matches are encouraged to use their best judgement and comfort level to make the safest decision for their match.
In-person meetings during the pandemic remain completely optional at this time.
- ALL MEMBERS of a match (mentor, guardian, and mentee) must feel comfortable with the choice to meet.
- If a mentor and mentee will be in the same vehicle together for outings, ALL MEMBERS of the match must feel comfortable with the choice to transport together.
- If match members are not comfortable discussing outings with each other, they are strongly advised to contact their Mentoring Coordinator for support.
Please be reminded that social distancing guidelines must still be followed by Bigs and Littles during in-person match outings. If you are a match that will resume in-person outings this month or would like to begin to transport in the same vehicle for outings, please contact your Mentoring Coordinator to sign a waiver before doing so. Please find the guidelines for in-person visits from the waiver below.
BBGV is allowing Community-Based Matches (“CBM”) to resume in-person visits beginning June 15, 2020, subject to the following requirements. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, participants in the CBM meeting in-person must follow the below guidelines and agree to adhere to them:
- Participants in the CBM must maintain social distancing during in-person interaction, meaning they must remain 6 feet/2 meters apart. The only exception to this is for transportation reasons; participants may travel in the same vehicle.
- Participants travelling together must wear facemasks at all times and the mentee must sit in the back seat of the vehicle if available.
- Participants in the CBM are not permitted in close spaces together where social distancing cannot be maintained. They must only meet in the outdoors, or indoor spaces where social distancing can be achieved.
- The use of non-medical masks is strongly recommended during in-person meetings. Note: This has now been changed to mandatory usage.
- Food sharing is not permitted.
- Handling of the same objects (such as sports equipment, game pieces etc.) is not permitted unless protective gloves are used and proper hygiene can be upheld. Handwashing immediately after handling shared objects and avoiding touching the face is strongly suggested.
- If a mentor or mentee is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or who has reason to believe they may have in any way been exposed to COVID-19, they must not meet in-person.
- Participants in the CBM meeting in-person must follow any applicable orders and guidelines of the BC Provincial Health Officer and other health authorities.
With alternate means of meeting strongly encouraged over in-person meetings, we recognize that Big and Little relationships continue to be important. A weekly phone call or virtual visit can help maintain connections and support the children and youth in our community. Below are guidelines first presented to matches in March 2020.
Guidelines for Alternate Meeting/Communication:
- Phone and virtual calls are permitted during the current pandemic or until further notice.
- These calls may only take place with the approval of the guardian and the Mentoring Coordinator.
- Mentee participation may only be through the use of the guardian’s phone/computer/device.
- The use of a mentee’s phone or device for contact with a mentor is NOT permitted.
- Phone and video contact should be limited to 2-4 hours per week.
- Texting and messaging are not permitted.
- All other Agency rules remain in place.
Our staff has put together some activities for matches to enjoy safely at home. Please find a list of activities at this link: Mentoring During COVID-19
Your Mentoring Coordinator will remain available to support your match during regular office hours through their cell phone and email. They will continue to conduct match support calls and meetings through phone and virtual meetings wherever possible and will be in touch with you for these important check-ins.
Community Program Manager
Now more than ever, the children and youth that we serve need mentors and a support system during this challenging and unprecedented time.
We know that the children and families we serve will be heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Loneliness and social isolation can be difficult for all of us, but vulnerable families and children will suffer the most. In fact, many children and young people are now facing increased adversities in their homes as
- 44% of Canadian households have suffered a job loss or reduced hours with over 1.3 million Canadians applying for EI benefits in the last two weeks.
- Domestic abuse shelters are seeing a dramatic increase in reports of family violence.
- Children’s helplines are reporting a 350% increase in calls from kids experiencing anxiety and mental health concerns.
Due to COVID-19, we have taken steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff and community.
Our offices were closed to the public and families in March 2020 and later re-opened with strict limits in September 2020. Renew Crew suspended our clothing donation operation for a time and has resumed operations on a limited basis. Unfortunately, out of concern for the safety of all involved, we have canceled our annual Scotiabank Bowl for Big Brothers campaign.
With an unpredictable timeline of when we will return to normal operation, we are asking for your help today to help sustain our organization so we can continue to provide mentorship for the children and youth we serve. Here are a few ways you can support us during this challenging time:
1). Donate to the organization’s COVID-19’s response fund.
2). Organize a digital fundraiser for Big Brothers.
3). Big Brothers are still needed! Matches are temporarily starting virtually or in person, with the goal of fully resuming in-person meetings once the pandemic ends. Sign up and click here.
4). If you have donations of clothing, we ask that you hold onto it until our operation resumes. If you’d like to be notified when the service returns, please register at www.BigClothingDonation.com
The COVID-19 pandemic has required everyone to stay home but our organization is determined to keep Big Brothers matches and connections going. Our program team has been working tirelessly to encourage matches to stay connected digitally so they can continue to build their friendships and to prevent further isolation. They have also been looking at different solutions to keep group programs going during school closures.
As this pandemic forces us to stay isolated and apart, we are asking for your support to help our matches, our families, and our organization to stay connected.