STATEMENT REGARDING COVID-19 JANUARY 2020
A Message from the Executive Director on COVID-19
It hardly seems enough to say that the Covid-19 Pandemic has been trying. This virus came upon us without notice and required an immediate and ongoing response. By everyone. There is no one among us who has not been affected. As with most global crises, it is the most vulnerable who are at the highest risk, and this includes women and children who have experienced abuse. Since the beginning of the Pandemic, we have seen an increase in abuse, the severity of abuse, and domestic homicides and it has been our priority to ensure that we remain open and available 24/7 to anyone who needs our services, at the moment that they need them.
For many women and children, being self-isolated with their abusive partners, family members, or others, has meant an increased risk of violence, with limited ways out or escape. Added stressors such as anxiety and negative financial impacts have contributed to a rise in domestic abuse including verbal, emotional, or physical violence. If you or someone you know may be experiencing abuse, control, harassment, or violence, please know that WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU!
HOW IS GILLIAN’S PLACE HERE FOR YOU?
We are committed to offering a safe place for our clients and staff, and anyone who comes to our shelter. We continue to follow Public Health Guidelines and Government Directives in order to provide for your health and wellbeing. This has meant that we have completely revamped many of our services and protocols for in-shelter clients, community clients, and our staff and visitors. All of our services remain available. As the Region enters another lock-down, our Covid-19 protocols are extensive and include the following safety measures in place:
· Our building cleaning protocols have been dramatically enhanced, and include thorough daily cleaning of all areas, and high touch areas minimum of three times per day;
· Only residents, staff, and essential visitors are permitted in the shelter. Prior to entering either of our locations, everyone is screened for recent travel, proximity to others who have tested positive for Covid-19, and known symptoms of Covid-19;
· Hand sanitation prior to entering our buildings is required (and when moving from one area of the building to another), and the use of masks is mandatory for essential visitors in congregate living areas;
· We now offer the option of meetings via virtual platforms (i.e. phone or video conferencing) for your safety. Clients still have the option of an in-person meeting if desired, during which physical protection protocols are in place including the use of face masks and shields, distancing, and/or plexiglass barriers;
· For those residing in the shelter, 2m distancing is required and safety protocols are reviewed with each client upon intake and regularly throughout their stay;
· All women/families residing in the shelter have their own bedrooms and bathrooms.
· We have isolation rooms equipped, and ready should a woman arrive to shelter with symptoms, or become symptomatic while residing in the shelter.
· Our Child and Youth Counsellors work with our children to help them understand the safety protocols, their role in reducing the spread, and managing their fears and anxiety as they arise;
· Our in-shelter volunteer program remains on-hold.
As we continue to take direction from Public Health, we will provide updates via our website and through our social media channels.
We have been so touched by the many inquiries and wishes from our community members who have checked in to see how we are doing. From our past clients to our community partners, local businesses, caring individuals, our neighbours, and our politicians, we have been overwhelmed by your thoughtfulness. We know that so many of you have struggled yourselves, and we count ourselves very fortunate to know that we have been on your minds. From our leadership, our front-line staff, and our clients: THANK YOU! You have made the way a little more gentle and a lot less scary, and your support means more than you can ever know. We wish you, and our entire Niagara Community, safety, and good health.