Neighbourhood Resources

Neighbours Helping Neighbours During COVID-19 Pandemic

This pandemic has changed many of our lives. For some of us, we’re now working from home and some of us suddenly have more time on our hands. Many of us are wondering: how can we support each other? How can we deal with anxiety? What should we do with our spare time? Fortunately, we have each other to help us through, even if physically distant, and this page is filled with some resources, ideas, and initiatives to help us all.

Neighbours Helping Neighbours

It is natural to want to reach out to help others in a time of need. If you are looking for some organized initiatives or new ideas to try out, we’ve compiled a small sampling of activities that are underway in Victoria, and other cities. If you are interested in setting up or participating in a neighbourhood network, check out the resources below: 

  • Care Mongering has a Victoria page. Many Victoria neighbourhoods have pods on this Facebook-based campaign that connects volunteer neighbours with others in need. 
  • Community Connect is a compilation of helpful crowd-sourced local resources
  • Safe Seniors, Strong Communities Program / BC 211. The province has launched a program that matches seniors who need support with non-medical essentials, to volunteers in their community who are willing to help. Learn more at www.bc211.ca.
  • Check out this link if you want some basic instructions for creating a Neighbour Pod
  • Volunteer Victoria: those who would like to volunteer their time to help others in their community during the pandemic, and those who are in need of assistance, can contact Volunteer Victoria
  • Determining ways to communicate in larger neighbourhood assistance efforts will benefit from this document created by the Edinburgh and Sandy Hill neighbourhoods in Ottawa.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical supplies are being collected by VIHA. If you have some to donate, please complete this form
  • Want to sew non-medical protective masks? Check out this YouTube video on a simple way to quickly make some for your family and neighbours
  • Wellandtrulygrey.com is a free resource specifically created by seniors to help seniors isolated by the pandemic.

Food Access Resources

 

Ensuring our communities get access to fresh, healthy food during the pandemic is of upmost importance. Please see the list of resources below that outline options for where to access ready-hot meal programs and groceries, and where to purchase local, fresh food direct from farmers and growers. Information is also provided on regional food security actions during COVID-19 and food safety from the BC Centre for Disease Control. 

 

For information on accessing free vegetable and herb seedlings, joining or starting a community garden in the City, community orchards, boulevard gardening, keeping bees and hens, rooftop gardening, or how to grow and sell food, please visit Growing In the City. 

Emergency Food Access: Find locations across the Capital Region to access free and low-cost groceries and meals, including food banks. This list is operated by the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Information Roundtable (CRFAIR): Food Access Resource List in the Capital Region

Avoid Grocery Store Line-ups: Check out this tool being used around the world to help gauge estimated wait time of line-ups at your local supermarkets, grocery store, pharmacies and other place of interest.

Food Atlas: The Food Atlas is a community-driven tool to help people find food access, food literacy and food security resources, programs and agencies in their communities. The Food Atlas is managed by the Island Food Security Hub in partnership with Vancouver Island Health Authority and the Public Health Association of B.C.

Local farms and nurseries: The Food-Eco District (FED) has compiled a list of local farms and nurseries operating during COVID-19. These include local, small scale commercial urban farms in the City of Victoria operating farm stands open during the pandemic - Mason Street Farms and TopSoil Innovative Urban Agriculture.

Farmers Markets:

Farmers' markets are considered an essential service under the BC state of emergency and are expected the comply with hygienic practices and physical distancing to reduce transmission of COVID-19, as stated by the BC Centre for Disease Control.

Please see the list of public markets within the City and farmers' markets within the Southern Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands region (please check farmers' markets' websites for operations during COVID-19).

Community Service Agriculture (CSA) boxes:

A CSA is a program of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters, where folks purchase a share in the season's harvest, pay for it up front, and receive a regular package of food throughout the season. CSA's link people directly with the growing, providing them with the most fresh, locally produced food, and gives farmers a source of direct income in the spring when their expenses are highest. 

Please find the list of Greater Victoria farmers offering CSA programs this season (operated by Farm Folk City Folk). 

Regional Food Security during COVID-19: CRFAIR has compiled lists of various resources on how to support food security for all during COVID-19 and provide weekly updates on the Regional Food Systems: COVID-19 Impact and Responses Briefs.

Food Safety:The BC Centre for Disease Control answers questions about food safety during COVID-19

Community Centres 

While our community and seniors centres are closed slowly and safely re-opening, many of them are continuing to offer programs and support to residents both online and by phone.

  • Oaklands Community Centre is organizing volunteers to help residents and has started a food hamper program with North Park
  • James Bay New Horizons will continue to offer a few programs during the pandemic following health guidelines as determined by Province. They continue to offer support programs including Senior Reassurance and services accessible by BC 211 as referrals are received. This may include grocery shopping, meal delivery, prescription pick up, etc. For more information and updates check www.jamesbaynewhorizons.

  • Victoria Silver Threads has relocated to 1911 Quadra Street and is starting a few programs including COVID coping to support seniors in managing during the pandemic.  Call (250)388-4268 or visit https://silverthreads.ca/ for more information.

  • Quadra Village Community Centre has a calendar of online events like storytelling, singing and youth drop-ins offered through Zoom and Facebook
  • The Vic West Community Association website has sign-up sheets for those in need and those who are able to help out.  There is a link on their Facebook page
  • North Park Neighbourhood Association has compiled a list of resources and has a pod on Facebook. Contact coordinator@npna.ca if you would like to help out.
  •  Fernwood NRG  operates its Good Food Box hamper program (contact Melissa at melissa@nrg.ca )
  • The Fairfield Gonzales Community Centre has updated their webpage with resources on how residents can help each other
  • Burnside Gorge Community Centre is offering outreach support to youth and families. Call 250.388.5251 for support
  • The Cook Street Village Activity Centre is beginning to offer in-person programs. A list of activities and new protocols can be found on their website

If you’ve got a suggestion or know about a local initiative, please send it to us at neighbourhoods@victoria.ca 

Childcare Services

The following community centres are offering emergency childcare services

Contact them directly to find out more information.

Managing Anxiety

Looking for ways to calm your mind and reduce anxiety? We’ve put together a small list of ways to lift your spirits and reach out to your neighbours in a safe way. If you have children, it’s especially important to remember it’s okay to have some fun right now and stay socially connected to your community.

Look Outside - there are many great safe activities happening outside your home. Joining them may create a pleasant diversion for you. We’ve got just a couple ideas here to get you started.  

  • Hearts in Windows – This international Facebook group literally sprung up overnight and is a place where we can all come together during this hard time and feel the sense of community and love
  • Neighbourhood Window Walk - The City of Waterloo has instigated a Neighbourhood Window Walk, a treasure hunt for window art. Make up your own ideas, post them in your window and on social media and see what happens. Some suggestions include shamrocks, silly faces, animals, encouraging words, flowers and Easter eggs.
  • Send a Postcard to a Neighbour - An Edmonton woman has created a printable template to help people reach out to each other, in a low-tech way.

Look Inside

Give yourself a break. It’s okay to feel anxiety with all these unknowns coming at us every day. We aren’t really wired to navigate anxiety all the time. No one has all the answers for dealing with this, so don’t beat yourself up for the emotions you are feeling. Below we’ve collected some ideas from articles from mental health professionals to help us all get through these tough times with our mental health intact.

  • Acknowledge and name your feelings - David Kessler is the world’s foremost expert on grief and shared his thoughts on why it’s important to acknowledge the grief you may be feeling, how to manage it, and how he believes we will find meaning in it.
  • Listen to music - Music really does soothe the savage beast, so turn on your favourite tunes and dance it out or sit quietly and let the sounds wash over you. We have so many free options for access to music – take advantage of it and let music ease your mind and soul.
  • Move your body – whether it’s gentle stretching, working out like Thor, or walking outside, exercise is good for the body, the brain and the mind
  • Just breathe –Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Whether or not meditation is something for you, taking a break during the day to be present and breathe can be helpful. Find a quiet and a comfortable place to sit and just breathe. In and out, in and out – whether for a minute or 15, it will help. There are many ways to do this – find something that works for you.
  • Elizabeth Gilbert shared her thoughts with TED Online in “It's OK to feel overwhelmed. Here's what to do next”     
  • TED Connects: Community and Hope is a free, live, daily conversation series featuring experts whose ideas can help us reflect and work through this uncertain time with a sense of responsibility, compassion and wisdom.

For more information visit the Canadian Mental Health Association

How to Be Bored

You may be tempted to try to stay busy and productive as a way to cope with the pandemic, but it can also be a time to just be still, take stock and be there to support your family and neighbours. When it comes to spending some of your downtime, there are many organizations that have created online activities that will nourish your brain while being at home. Here are a few ideas to get started.

  • Tour 1,200+ of the world’s most famous museums from the comfort of your living room. To help creatives and history buffs begin their homeschooling journey, Google has compiled a list of the top 10 virtual museums
  • Learn about sea life at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and view animals through live cams at the San Diego and the Oregon zoos.
  • Read a good book. Even though the public library is closed, you can still access electronic and audible books through the local library system. Download the Cloud Library app on your device and access hundreds of books instantly from our library. If you prefer to own your books, you can still buy books online, through the online book retailers and Apps you can download on your phone and tablet. Ask your friends for recommendations; share your favourites.
  • Become a Yale graduate. Yale University is offering people free online access to its most popular course, “The science of well-being.” Broken into short modules of videos and homework assignments, the course helps students engage in challenges that are designed to increase happiness and build more productive habits                        
  • Get outside and listen to the birds. We are lucky to have so many different birds in our gardens and trees. Learn more about local birds and hear their songs
  • Plant something. Digging in the dirt is both therapeutic and teaches us patience, and we get the added bonus of flowers and food. Check out our Growing in the City page to find out more about our community gardens. Even if you don’t have access to the outdoors, you can grow houseplants or grow vegetables from scraps in your home
  • Print one of these scavenger hunt pages for something fun for kids
  • Even though the Royal BC Museum is closed right now, you can enjoy their online programs, from materials for learners of all ages to videos, talks with curators and more
  • With kids at home and parents looking for educational activities, many of our favorite authors are offering online read-alouds and activities on social media.
  • IMAX Victoria is offering free video content to keep you entertained during these difficult times. Enjoy some entertaining and inspiring content, including exclusive interviews and three full IMAX films.

Food in the City

As we adjust to this new normal, access to food has become even more important to us. Across the city we see people buying food for those who need help, swapping seeds and getting garden space ready, looking for ways to support local food-related businesses and of course, digging out our favourite comfort food recipes. Here are a few local resources you can use to help you with your food needs.

  • City staff are planting vegetables in the city greenhouses to help people grow some food. The plant starts are now being distributed through  the Urban Food Table. Contact your neighbourhood community centre to find out when and where the seedlings will be available.
  • Struggling to get food on the table? Share the Goods program allows volunteers to purchase online groceries or gift cards on a one-time basis for people who are isolated and/or experiencing financial difficulties. Contact between volunteers and recipients are managed by email, with no physical meetings.
  • Want to help feed others? Consider supporting Boxes of Hope. Each donation of $10 provides a warm healthy meal for someone in need.
  • Farmers markets have been designated as essential food but must comply with physical distancing requirements. Check out our local markets for how they are operating right now.
  • Want to join a community garden? Check out our list of gardens here and contact the volunteer coordinators directly
  • If growing your own garden is something you’d like to do but lack your own garden space, plant food on city boulevards. We’ve put together a set of guidelines to help you do this.
  • Want to see what others are eating these days? Check out this FB Shut-In Foodies page for some great ideas for meals.
  • Many local restaurants have developed online ordering and curbside pick-up opportunities. As well, some are beginning to open for in-house dining. Please be patient and kind as staff learn and implement new protocols. Check out your favourite restaurant online to see what they are currently offering. 

Community Recovery and Resiliency

As we begin to see businesses and community centres slowly re-opening, people returning to work and residents expanding their personal “pods” it is time to explore what recovery and resiliency looks like. There are a couple of grant programs now available to assist residents with this, as well as a community conversation taking place.

  • The City of Victoria’s My Great Neighbourhood Grant program has re-opened with the usual placemaking and activity grants, but there is a new category for Recovery and Resiliency. Get information here.
  • The Victoria Foundation Neighbourhood Small Grants are open and have been adapted to be "Responsive grants" focused on reducing social isolation and connecting people during COVID. Look here for more information
  • A community-side conversation is being facilitated by the City’s Neighbourhood Team. They want to hear your thoughts on these questions:
  1. As a resident, what changes have you made in response to the pandemic?  What activities might you consider stopping, continuing or beginning?
  2. What types of activities do you think might be sustained or initiated by the community through organizations such as your neighbourhood association?
  3. What assistance from the City or other agencies would help support these initiatives?

Send an email to neighbourhoods@victoria.ca with your feedback.

We’re going to keep updating this page with more ideas on different topics, building on what we learn. If you’ve got a suggestion or know about a local initiative, please send it to us at neighbourhoods@victoria.ca. And remember, be kind to each other.

 
 

What's Happening

 City Events Currently Postponed

 

Following the advice from BC’s Public Health Officer for social distancing and avoiding large groups, the City has decided to postpone all public events until further notice. This includes any scheduled open houses, workshops and meet-ups.

Check out the Virtual Mayor's Community Drop-In

 

Please check back for updates at a later time.

 

 Find out more on the City of Victoria Response to COVID-19 page

     
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