Volunteer Anette Akouri is part of a vital service that connects clients to help them be less vulernable. (Saanich Volunteer Services Society)

Volunteer Anette Akouri is part of a vital service that connects clients to help them be less vulernable. (Saanich Volunteer Services Society)

Saanich volunteers up the friendship calls, grocery deliveries during pandemic

Saanich Volunteer Services Society helping vulnerable residents stay happy, healthy

The Saanich Volunteer Services Society (SVSS) has worked hard to meet the needs of the vulnerable members of the community and provide social interactions amid the pandemic.

For more than 25 years, the SVSS has been connecting volunteers with residents living independently who are in need of assistance and COVID-19 has increased the need for everything from grocery deliveries to friendship calls, explained Linda Dawson Reid, social worker and client services coordinator.

The priority at the beginning of the pandemic was ensuring food security for new and existing clients, she said. “People were really stuck,” and many seniors and immune-compromised people without a support system found themselves in need of help.

The SVSS has also been delivering everything from food hampers and medications to free prepared meals through the Better At Home program funded by United Way and the province. On Nov. 26 alone, more than 70 meals were delivered to Saanich clients. The free meal program is currently set to run through December but Dawson Reid hopes to see it continue.

One service that has existed for many years but saw a spike once the pandemic began is the Friendship Call, Dawson Reid said. Since March, the SVSS received about 20 new requests for friendship calls – 30-minute phone calls between a volunteer and a client – on top of requests from existing clients.

Clients enjoy the calls because it’s “nice to chat with someone who hasn’t heard your stories before,” Dawson Reid said.

Seniors were prone to social isolation before the pandemic and now, without trips to the grocery store, the bank and other social spaces, many more people are feeling lonely. Prior to COVID-19, the SVSS offered home visits but with current safety restrictions, the phone calls are even more important, she said.

Volunteers are matched with a client based on interests and given conversation prompts for a weekly 30-minute phone chat,. For example, one client – an avid Edmonton Oilers fan – wanted to chat with a fellow hockey lover and the SVSS was able to match her with just the right volunteer, and “they have a blast.”

Dawson Reid emphasized that the SVSS is always accepting new clients and that there is currently a waiting list of volunteers hoping to be matched with someone. She is pleased to see how the community has stepped up to support their neighbours during the pandemic and hopes the generous spirit will endure.

The SVSS is always working to balance the number of volunteers and clients. Those interested in volunteering can sign up online at saanichvolunteers.org. To register as a client, call Dawson Reid at 250-595-8008 ext. 126.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

SaanichSeniorsvolunteers

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

With the help of a $110,000 federal grant, Saanich will be adding 22 new EV chargers for its municipal fleet to reduce emissions from district operations. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich adds 22 new EV chargers for municipal fleet to reduce corporate emissions

Federal grant adds $110,000 jolt to project, installation to be completed fall 2022

Andrew Swanson was arrested Wednesday after he was wanted for an alleged choking assault and for obstructing police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police arrest Andrew Swanson on warrants for alleged choking assault, obstruction

A member of the public spotted Swanson and called 911 before police came and made the arrest

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth sustains minor injuries in stabbing at Saanich Plaza

Suspect under age of 16 taken into custody, no risk to the public, police say

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
West Shore proud owners of B.C.’s first electric school bus

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports 1st vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,500 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

Most Read