Increasing need

By Jenn Watt

Being stuck in the house during a global pandemic is stifling for almost anyone. Even when there’s nowhere to go knowing that we can’t or shouldn’t leave the house is frustrating and anxiety-inducing. But this situation isn’t being experienced by everyone in the same way.

For many people in this community the necessary requirements of this crisis impose myriad burdens from those losing their jobs to those separated from ailing family members to those who have no stable home in which to “shelter in place.”

As the weeks go by we learn more about our neighbours and the difficulties they face as social service organizations report one by one that demand is up.

First we heard from the food banks. By the end of March the 4Cs in Haliburton had already noted demand was up 20 per cent.

Then we heard from mental health services where the clinical manager said most of the intake in the last week of March was new clients struggling to manage anxiety and financial stressors.

This week the YWCA Peterborough Haliburton and the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre both marked an increase in demand. KSAC says its demand for after-hours support is up 50 per cent.

And for those whose financial resources are being stretched isolating at home can be even more isolating. Beverlee Groves-Foley clinical manager for mental health services pointed out that for those who do not have internet at home or who relied on free services at the library branches or restaurants like Tim Hortons those venues are at least in part gone.

We’re all adapting to this new world we find ourselves in – and our social services organizations are doing the same. Most were not prepared to move their workforces to home offices. Many programs were built on face-to-face interaction and they’re scrambling to make things work in different ways. Already many of them are.

These service providers are making us aware that the need is intensifying and preparing us to respond.

If projections are accurate we have many weeks if not months to go before we begin to “return to normal” and a lot can happen in that time. Our lives will likely change again in many new ways.

While it can be difficult to see beyond the walls of our homes right now when we’re able it’s also important to continue empathizing with others and lending support when we can.