At The Corner’s reception and in the intake office, two Health Access intake staff are making outgoing phone calls – also known as Wellness Checks – between the hours of 9am and 6pm to vulnerable seniors and clients. On the receiving end of the calls, clients express deep gratitude for the check-in and the ability to connect over the phone during times of extreme social isolation.
The team receives incoming calls about the financial hits that residents have taken, from lay-offs to not being able to work due to taking care of families and the anxiety about federal and provincial income supports like the CERB and income tax credits and benefits. They refer clients to phone-based partner services, including mental health counselling, as the need has risen.
Pet food distribution to the neighbourhood
Once a month, residents of St. James Town who are income insecure drop by The Corner to receive pet food as the demand has increased since the pandemic due to financial stressors. The food is donated by the Toronto Humane Society. Food insecurity in St. James Town during the pandemic affects households in many ways that may not be obvious at first.
The importance of connecting
When you connect with people, you will get to know what is happening in their lives and a better sense of the emerging needs in the community. The Corner, as part of the Downtown East COVID-19 Table and Focus Table where gaps in community support and trends are shared, is where you will find resources to respond to community needs.
“The Corner really means a lot to us. I am able to come here and ask support from you. The buzzer works well for all of us. It helps us to keep the physical distance and talk to the staff at The Corner.”
– John Gray from 200 Wellesley St. East
Taking a look back
In a Snapshot, from March 18th to April 20th, Health Access St. James Town and The Corner were able to provide the following essential services:
Conducted 77 wellness checks for seniors, 174 Wellness checks for additional clients
Provided 156 meal pick ups
Delivered 103 meals to homebound clients
Delivered 104 food boxes
Provided 41 individuals with pet food items
Supported 26 clients on the phone with system navigation (eg. CRA, OW/ODSP offices, helping with CERB and other applications)
Moving forward, there are plans for additional food bank distribution, a call out for volunteers to help provide support, new warm lines being developed and virtual programming being offered to meet the emerging needs of residents. These needs range from support with stress and anxiety, parenting while staying home, grocery shopping, storing food and more.
As the pandemic evolves, The Corner, community partners and community members will continue to adapt, strategize and apply learnings to come up with meaningful and tangible ways to support St. James Town residents together in unprecedented times.