COVID-19 Response

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May 28, 2021

Update to Community Program Match Outings

Dear Big Brothers Community,

Following changes to province-wide health restrictions, Community-Based (Big Brothers and Big Sisters) match outings in personal residences may resume starting May 28, 2021. The use of non-medical masks during in-person outings continue to be mandatory until further notice. Matches are asked to maintain a social distance where possible.

In-person meetings during the pandemic remain completely optional at this time. We understand that each person will have a different level of comfort, so we encourage you to choose what’s best for your match and follow social distancing guidelines. Please visit this webpage for the latest province-wide restrictions: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/restrictions

If you are a match that will resume in-person outings at this time 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.

Meeting virtually, by phone, and alternate ways of connecting continue to be strongly recommended. 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 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.

Please find a list of activities that matches can enjoy safely at home: Mentoring During COVID-19

Thank you to all matches and families for your patience as we face the pandemic together. We are hopeful about the changes to come and assure you all that your Mentoring Coordinator will remain available to support your match. Please contact them 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 and will be in touch with you for these important check-ins.

Best regards,

Shannon Huynh
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.

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