In the last number of weeks Whistler has experienced the highest number of cases and transmission of the virus causing COVID-19 that the community has seen since the start of this global pandemic. Whistler Community Services Society is proud to play a significant role in supporting our residents who are most vulnerable to challenges in food security as well as mental and emotional health, particularly during this time of emergency. We have been able to offer our essential services, without interruption, throughout the pandemic. As we continue to navigate challenging times we will adapt to ensure we are able to carry on supporting all those who need low barrier assistance to support when life presents overwhelming challenges.
Our Outreach team has recently expanded in by two additional staff members in order to meet demand in our community for assistance with emotional, mental, and financial health. Anxiety and stress from isolation, contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or from testing positive themselves are the leading reasons for residents seeking assistance and the intensity of these feelings is growing quickly within our community – we are here to respond to the need for help. Demand for assistance from our outreach team is currently double historic numbers from this time of year, with November and December seeing over 600 visits each month with our team. Counselling assistance, our referral program to specialized professional service providers, saw 57 client visit referrals between October and December, that is nearly one client visit referral everyday and a half.
Our Food Security programs are also seeing near record high numbers at this time. Throughout the month of January, demand rose exponentially and we are now on a trajectory that has us anticipating exceeding the demand we saw in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic first impacted our community.
We are so very grateful for the community support we have received over these past 12 months. This time has shown that we are truly all in this TOGETHER, and we need to continue to rely on one another to ensure our community remains the healthy, vibrant, and caring place we have all come to know and love. We anticipate demand for our programs to stay high in the coming months, and we look forward to working with our donors and community partners to ensure the essential work continues.
At this time WCSS feels that it is the responsibility of every resident and guest to ensure personal adherence to public health orders and recommendations. For the protection of everyone, we ask everyone to be diligent about wearing (clean) masks, washing your hands regularly, avoid any non essential travel out of the community, and limit contact to just your own household except in unavoidable situations (inside and out). This virus is being contracted and causing health issues for ALL AGE GROUPS WITHIN WHISTLER. This virus does not lend itself to certain age groups or demographics. We are all susceptible to contracting and sharing this virus. We must all do our part as this virus greatly impacts our economically vulnerable population who are working in forward, facing, essential service roles and specifically those who live in high density or multigenerational housing.
Together, at a time when we still need to be apart we need to remember that we are all in this together as a community.