To our Covenant House Family,
I hope you and your loved ones have been safe and well. I can’t believe it has been over a year since the outbreak of Covid-19 first began.
From volunteers, to front-line staff, and not least of all our young people, we have all felt the impact and uncertainty of the last twelve months.
Although it has been a tough year, we never once doubted that you were by our side, walking with us. And through it all, our doors never closed – because when a pandemic hits, housing truly becomes health care.
As we look back with gratitude and forward with hope, I wanted to provide you with an update to keep you informed.
Continued safeguarding of our youth and staff
We are committed to ensuring the safety of our youth, volunteers, and staff. We continue to take direction regarding best practices from local, provincial, and federal health authorities and rely on the in-house direction of our Covid-19 Response Team (CRT).
Our Covid-19 protocols include:
- Screening all youth and staff before they enter the building and referring them for Covid-19 testing, as appropriate
- Regularly reminding both youth and staff to protect themselves and others by practicing physical distancing, performing good hand hygiene, avoiding touching their face and covering coughs/sneezes
- Requiring staff to use PPE as recommended by our local health authority
- Providing and requesting that youth wear PPE when they are in the presence of others
- Reducing the number of youth in one space at a time and reconfiguring spaces to allow for physical distancing
- Providing youth with virtual counselling by phone or secure video conferencing
- Staggering mealtimes
- Reducing seating in common areas
- Keeping our site closed to external visitors
We are very proud to report we have not had a single onsite transmission of the virus. Vancouver Coastal Health has visited us several times and has shared we are doing an excellent job of following best practices.
Pivoting and adapting
Throughout the pandemic we have remained open, and we have been able to continue to welcome some of the most vulnerable in our community, inviting them inside as well as providing services in the community.
Front-line staff have found innovative ways to support youth including:
- Offering virtual counselling
- Creating opportunities for virtual and physically distanced art therapy
- Providing healthy and safe recreation options, including walks, yoga and gym time
- Adapting spaces to accommodate more places for youth to safely “hang out”
- Using cell phones to contact youth both onsite and in the community
- Creating an online mental health group in our Rights of Passage program
- Providing continued support with schooling, help with housing and job searches
The young people have been our partners in meeting the challenges throughout this year. They have been understanding and have shown great resilience while adapting to all the changes and working with staff to help keep everyone safe.
Vaccination plan and next steps
Our Covid-19 Response Team is working closely with Vancouver Coastal Health to get our youth and front-line staff vaccinated as soon as possible.
Vancouver Coastal Health has provided several clinics to support the following vulnerable groups, including those who are:
- Experiencing homelessness
- Living in shelters
- Living in a Single Room Occupancy Unit, or
- Living in Supported Housing
We are working hard to provide youth and front-line staff with vaccinations, and are happy to report some front-line staff and young people have received their first vaccination.
How can we help?
It’s often the first question our supporters ask us. Our answer: incredible young people need your financial support right now. They need masks, meals, medical care, and to know they’re not alone.
You can make a financial donation by phone, mail or online and you can also help by providing needed items.
Covid-19 is no match for unconditional love
I want to thank everyone in the community including individuals, companies, schools, community groups, families, and foundations who have supported us throughout the pandemic.
The way you have stepped forward to provide consistent funding and care for our young people is a testament to the resilience of our community in the deepest sense of the term.
On behalf of everyone at Covenant House Vancouver, thank you for your unwavering support over the past year.
With love and respect,
Krista Thompson, ICD.D
Chief Executive Officer
Covenant House Vancouver