Vulnerable populations continue to be disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Avalon helps at-risk women and girls who are battling with addiction and/or mental illness.
Leanne Utendale Poly Paton Cristull Caverhill
Centre Manager at Avalon Women’s Centre White Rock, Leanne Utendale explained, “Here, women can access safe, welcoming meeting spaces for addiction support, free childcare, drop-in hours, resource libraries and a clothing closet. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit we have closed our Centres to the public and added virtual services to our support activities, providing a full meeting schedule of Zoom and telephone meetings, as well as telephone drop-in support, empowering online workshops and free virtual one-on-one counselling.”
The grant is made possible through the Government of Canada's new $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund, which saw over $900,000 allocated to SurreyCares. Services in Surrey had an additional $35,032 for grants to charities serving White Rock.
SurreyCares and ECSF grants are supporting Avalon’s program, named “AvalOnline.” AvalOnline is a digital platform of addiction recovery resources and programming, accessible from home at no cost.
“After transitioning to virtual meetings, Avalon quickly saw an increase in demand from women who were reaching out for addiction support for the first time,” Leanne Utendale reported. “This project meets a need for free, low-barrier addiction support services that are accessible for women wherever they are. By helping women to access addiction support and feel like part of a community within their own home, we are helping them stay safe while building their recovery capital and helping them live a better, healthier life for themselves and their families. We must invest in these capabilities now so we can be there for the many women who are struggling with their mental health and developing substance use issues during this challenging time.”
“Due to the air of uncertainty that has come along with COVID-19 pandemic, issues surrounding mental health and addiction have been amplified. It is so important that our community continues to advocate for, and support, those who are vulnerable during this time. AvalOnline will provide women and girls with accessible resources at no cost,” explained Christine Buttkus, Executive Director of SurreyCares.