UHN OpenLab’s Friendly Neighbour Hotline:
University Health Network’s OpenLab is helping vulnerable seniors—the group most at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic—by mobilizing volunteers to deliver groceries and other household essentials. The service gives priority to seniors living in low-income housing.
Due to the need for social distancing, many seniors face challenges with picking up essentials like groceries. These challenges are made worse by the new reality of having to wait in long lines at some stores, which may not be possible for frail seniors, and which brings a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
Many seniors, particularly those with low-income, do not have digital access or are unable to go online or afford the added fees for delivery services.
Since this initiative was first announced on March 13, 2020, close to 600 volunteers have stepped forward to offer assistance to the thousands of seniors living in low-income housing across the city. Together, we operate the Friendly Neighbour Hotline, a single phone number seniors living in low-income housing in Toronto can call, connected to a network of volunteers throughout the city who can help with picking up groceries and household essentials during this difficult time.
Volunteers are ordinary Torontonians who want to help. All volunteers have been vetted. Vetting includes a review of government-issued ID (e.g. driver’s license, passport) and two references, one of which must be from work, school or another volunteer organization. Those who have passed the vetting process attend mandatory online training before they can assist vulnerable seniors.
The UHN OpenLab team has established the processes and procedures of the operation, and consulted with City officials, collaborators, and seniors themselves to ensure a coordinated, effective and safe response. The team has long-standing relationships and projects looking at creative ways to support seniors to live independently in Toronto’s vertical communities. This has allowed UHN OpenLab to get organized very quickly, and to go live with the service in just a week.
The Friendly Neighbour Hotline went live on Monday, March 23. Currently, it is only serving Toronto seniors who live in low-income housing. The toll-free Hotline is available in 180 languages.
SPRINT Senior Care
SPRINT began caring for seniors and enabling seniors to care for themselves in 1983. They continue to do so today as an accredited, not-for-profit community support service agency in Toronto by offering a wide range of practical and low-cost services to seniors and their caregivers. Due to COVID-19, there have been a number of program and service changes. Please click here to learn more.
If you’re a senior and interested in grocery delivery, Meals on Wheels food service or security and wellness checks, please call 416-481-0069 ext. 1225 or review this flyer.
Wellness Together Canada E-Portal
Wellness Together Canada is an innovative joint venture between Canadian mental health leaders to offer a full range of mental health support to people of all ages in every part of Canada. The program connects Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists, and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, and will make it easier to find credible information and help address mental health and substance use issues. It is available in both English and French as an online portal/website and can be accessed at wellnesstogether.ca. Wellness Together Canada is funded by Health Canada.
Feeling Lonely? We Care About You:
During the COVID-19 crisis, and even during “normal times”, too many seniors are isolated. I’ve organized a team of caring volunteers who are ready to reach out to seniors in our community who feel lonely. Please feel very welcome to post this notice in your building or street. For a printable version, please click here.
Canadian Red Cross Food Delivery
Helpful Housing Information
Social Planning Toronto has created a helpful tool on their COVIDHelpTO page with information on how to get help for a variety of different housing situations. For more information, please click here.
The Stop’s COVID-19 Plan:
We’re at a critical time for the containment of COVID–19 (Coronavirus).
The Stop Community Food Centre will be shifting its resources away from community programming and towards emergency food access services starting Monday, March 16.
Our first and foremost priority is to protect the health and well-being of all Stop community members, staff, and volunteers.
We will continue to provide essential food access services to our community in an adjusted form at our main location at 1884 Davenport Road:
• The Stop’s Food Bank will run Mondays and Fridays, 12pm-3pm.
• The Drop-in will no longer serve seated meals. Instead, we will serve takeaway meals on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 9am-10am for breakfast, 12pm-1pm for lunch
• The Stop’s Community Advocacy Office will no longer hold in-person office hours, but Community Advocates are able to provide information, support, and referrals via phone. Monday-Friday 10am-2pm (416) 652-7867 x243
Please note: the following Stop programs and services are suspended until further notice:
• Healthy Beginnings (general program, Food Bank still open)
• Community Kitchens
• The Stop’s Wychwood Open Door
• Income Tax Clinic
• The Stop’s Urban Agriculture programming, including Youth Programs and the Mashkikii;aki’ing Medicine Wheel Garden
• The Stop’s Farmers’ Market
If you are in need of immediate food access and are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus, or have come in contact with someone with symptoms, please do not visit The Stop. Instead, please ask a friend or family member to do so for you.
Questions? Please contact our general line: 416-652-7867, or email email@example.com.
If you would like to support our work, monetary donations are the most efficient way. They allow us to purchase the exact items we need on short notice. We also have purchasing relationships with farmers, stores, and suppliers, so we can buy items at a lower price than retail customers. You can make a donation here.
If you’d prefer to donate items, that’s great too! Currently, we’re seeking baby supplies (wipes, diapers, and formula. Size 3-4 are our most requested diaper sizes, but we would take anything!) unused personal care products (like hand sanitizer, shampoo, menstrual products, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, disposable razors, etc) and clean takeout containers with lids. These can be dropped off at 1884 Davenport Road, Monday-Friday 9am-11am and 1pm-3pm.
We all must do our part to contain any spread and mitigate the effects of Coronavirus—both physically and mentally—on our staff, volunteers, and community members.
To keep our workplace healthy throughout this period, our staff and volunteers are following stringent precautionary measures such as frequent hand washing, continually sterilizing our work environments, use of rubber gloves, and social distancing. The Stop is also providing extended, paid sick days and work-from-home arrangements to our employees upon request, no questions asked.
Yet for so many of our community members, these arrangements are completely inaccessible.
To isolate yourself, you need adequate housing.
To take a sick day, you need to know you’ll get to keep your job.
To stockpile food and supplies, you need to be able to afford these essentials in the first place.
In times like these, vulnerable community members need our support the most.
COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub
Before the pandemic, we were advocating together for programs to help our youth. Now, during the COVID-19 crisis, we want our community’s youth to get through this physically, and mentally, well. Here’s a helpful COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub that youth can access virtually.
Unison Health Telephone Counselling and Support
For the safety of community members and our clients and to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Unison Health is now offering the following services over the phone:
mental health counselling: Call Amanda Costa, Mental Health OutreachWorker at 416-645-7575 ext. 2050 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
help to apply for income benefits, such as CERB: Call 416-787-1661 ext. 3240, Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm Leave a voice mail message with your name and phone number.
help to get food: Call 416-787-1661 ext. 3341, Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm Leave a voice mail message with your name and phone number.
If you are worried, sad, or scared, you are not alone. Unison’s counsellors are here to help you. Connect with Unison by using one of the phone numbers listed above. Someone will return your call as soon as possible. Note: staff are working from home and your call may be returned from a blocked number.
Good Neighbour Project
Are you someone in isolation, elderly, a single parent or person living with a disability that requires delivery assistance for supplies, and groceries with no one to help? A task force of volunteers with the Good Neighbour Project are on standby to offer you assistance. Please call 647-873-2230 between 8:00am-8:00pm daily or visit their website here.
TakeCare19 is a collection of crowd-sources, accessible, free/low-cost and inclusive mental health resources to help people cope during COVID-19. A variety of resources on mindfulness, exercise, work, therapy, community and more are available. Please feel very welcome to explore their website here.
Chatting to Wellness
Chatting to Wellness connects youth and seniors to sit and chat. This initiative helps to combat isolation and loneliness, while improving the mental health of seniors. In normal times, Chatting to Wellness brings youth on a weekly basis to retirement homes to engage with residents, however, due to COVID-19, volunteers will be chatting with seniors every weekday night between 6:00pm-9:00pm. For more details, please click here.
Do You Live Between Christie/Ossington & Dupont/Davenport?
Hello neighbour! My name is Caitlin, and I live in the area between Christie/Ossington and Dupont/Davenport. Along with other neighbours, I’m reaching out because we know that Toronto’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will cause challenges for many of us, due to school and work closures, illness, quarantines, or social distancing. We want to connect with our neighbours so we can communicate, share resources and information, and support each other with any needs that come up.
Let us know if there is anything you need help with now – errands, supplies, groceries, picking up medication, or anything else. We will do our best to help, or connect you to someone who can. Contact me by email at MelitaCrescentToronto@gmail.com or call/text at 647-393-8742.
If you would like to be part of this mutual support network, let us know:
1. How we should contact you to follow up (email, call, text, social media)
2. How you can help (shopping, hosting online gatherings, coordinating the network, etc)
Even though we can’t gather in person, we can still come together as a community!
- Pro Bono Ontario: free legal assistance offered to low-income Ontarians through their Free Legal Advice Hotline (1-855-255-7256)
211 Toronto connects people living in the GTA to over 4,000 programs and social services such as financial help, employment services, mental health, home care, housing, shelters, food and childcare. It offers a 24/7 confidential service in 150 languages, including online, text and chat services.
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
As COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to spread globally, be on the lookout for associated scams. Fraudsters want to profit from consumers’ fears, uncertainties and misinformation. Please click here for detailed examples of COVID-19 fraud and information on how to protect yourself.