Innovation

Connecting with Calgarians in Crisis

Before Sagesse joined Community Connect YYC, an online booking tool empowering Calgarians to find and access support from multiple agencies, Andrea Silverstone, executive director of Sagesse, could personally attest to the immense value it provides.

“A friend of mine in the U.S. called me to share the news of the tragic loss of her brother, who lived in Calgary, in an accident. His family needed help, but with COVID-19 restrictions, his extended family in the U.S. couldn’t travel to support them. I knew Community Connect YYC could help.”

From a distance, Andrea helped her friend navigate to the Community Connect YYC website and set up appointments for grief counselling and financial supports for her brother’s widow and her nephew.

“During this family’s very difficult time, this website made accessing services much easier, and also allowed an informal supporter who was far away to help.”

Sagesse joined Community Connect YYC at the beginning of 2021 to provide increased access to support to anyone who has been impacted by domestic violence, including people who are at risk of being abused, informally support others, or are involved in sex work. With 24/7 direct online booking, Calgarians can reach out whenever they feel ready and book an appointment, usually within a week.

“Calgarians struggle to access the supports they need for many reasons, including waitlists or costs, but also feelings of shame or anxiety that make it hard to ask for help. The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified these challenges, as Calgarians face more grief, financial struggles, family stress and isolation. More than ever, ensuring Calgarians have easy access to support is crucial,” says Andrea.

In the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (April to August 2020), calls to Alberta’s Family Violence Info Line (310-1818) saw a 23 percent increase in calls compared to the same period of 2019.

At Sagesse, we have seen requests for peer-based services for abused women increase 30 percent and the demand for our REAL Talk program for informal supports go up by 200 percent.

“With COVID, we quickly pivoted to provide increased online and remote support, including expanded call, text and chat support, online peer support and webinars, and then joining Community Connect YYC. Beyond COVID, these supports will remain an important avenue for reaching out to people who are more comfortable accessing help online, or who live in remote areas that don’t have local supports.”

Visit our website for information about our individual and group peer support programs and REAL Talk, and visit Community Connect YYC today to find out more about all of the counselling and social supports services it offers.

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Hello? How Are You?

Connect with Sagesse on LinkedInIt’s been a while (technically more than a year; is that still classified as “a while”?) since we posted a blog… and we have a lot to talk about.

On top of the public and economic crisis, the spread of COVID-19 was a catalyst for a shadow pandemic. Across the globe, instances of violence against women increased more than 30 percent. This also continued in our own backyard. While domestic violence calls to the Calgary police may have gone down in 2020, people in lockdown with their abusers needed more — and reimagined — support.

We quickly pivoted our programming at the beginning of the pandemic to provide online peer support and workshops. We also introduced text and chat support across the Province. It was an all-hands-on-deck response, which taught us valuable lessons about innovation and made us hold strong to one of our values: Trust in the Messiness.

We’re going to share these hard-earned lessons and insights in future blogs. But we don’t want this to be one-sided; we want to hear your take and learn how you’re tackling complex social issues. Follow us on our re-vamped LinkedIn page, where we’ll be keeping the conversation going.

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