How UGM is Urgently Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated July 24th 11:26AM, 2020

We’re so grateful for your support as we confront the COVID-19 crisis together. UGM is committed to continue safeguarding our community amidst this COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ever since the pandemic was declared, we have been taking swift and urgent emergency steps to safeguard our guests, volunteers, and staff. We know our homeless guests are among the most vulnerable in our region to health concerns like COVID-19, as some may have compromised immune systems and pre-existing health conditions, along with precarious living situations and urgent basic needs like shelter and meals. 

Now, more than ever, the wellbeing of our guests and community is top priority. It’s crucial we proactively offer the best care possible. We are dedicated to ensuring the safety of our guests, many of whom rely on UGM for meals, shelter and safety daily for survival. Their lives are on the line, and we will continue to serve them with dignity and respect through extra measures to keep them safe.

Our Emergency Management Team is continuing to take actions to minimize any risk of transmission and keep our guests safe as BC begins to reopen. These steps include but are not limited to:  

  • We continue to be geared toward safely maintaining our most critical life-saving programs like meals, shelter and housing. Many non-essential services and non-essential administration have been suspended, while in line with BC’s Restart Plan, some of our services have now safely reopened again, like our Thrift Store. 
  • All staff are following the guidance of the health authority and following the government’s guidelines. Staff in essential areas are wearing personal protective equipment like masks and even face shields, while we are increasing social distancing measures as much as possible, and continuing to screen guests for any symptoms while working with health authorities to best care for those in need. 
  • Taking extra sanitation measures to clean all surfaces thoroughly and more frequently every day at UGM
  • Reminding our staff and residents on how to prevent and recognize COVID-19

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  • As COVID-19 forced many other organizations to scale down, the compassionate support of people like you means that UGM has been able to step up to fill critical gaps. We’ve increased emergency supports for low-income families and are maintaining our most essential life-saving programs like meals, emergency shelter, and housing.
    • Dramatically increasing delivery of food hampers to vulnerable families by 500% from our pre-pandemic levels. Find out more at https://www.ugm.ca/covid19-most-needed/
    • Being there for those who are on the fringes of our society through our Mobile Mission, providing extra food, hygiene items, outdoor gear, connection and health information, as we’re seeing over twice as many people camping out in hard-to-reach places than before the pandemic 
    • Instead of gathering hundreds of people inside our dining room together, we are offering hot meals ‘to-go’ in biodegradable containers through our doors and serving hundreds more. This reduces risk and follows the advice of health authorities to limit public gatherings.
    • Having our Cornerstone Drop-in Centre open for a few hours in the afternoons with social distancing measures so our guests have a place to rest and connect during the day 
    • Adjusting shelter operations to protect guests. UGM is fortunate that our shelter was designed specifically with dignity and illness control in mind. Still, we are implementing more social distancing as possible in our shelter to space guests further apart in separate rooms and separate floors. We are also screening guests for COVID-19 symptoms to ensure our shelter is a safe refuge and will be referring any severely sick patients to 9-1-1.
  • Adapting our plan for summer camp for kids and families we serve, as provincial health officials have announced that no overnight camps can safely happen this summer:
    • Supporting and sponsoring families who are attending day camps.                                                                         
    • Hosting our own outdoor day camps for kids from the end of July into August
    • Supporting kids with weekly one-on-one visits, delivering activity packs to their homes for the start of the summer.
    • Scaling back larger events to responsibly minimize the risk of transmission

If the virus becomes more widespread, we may be taking additional steps to respond. Please keep posted here, as we will continue to update this page with our current emergency measures.

What You Can Do:

We appreciate your prayers and support as we face this ever changing situation. The need is great and ongoing. In addition to our homeless neighbours, many new faces continue to access our services due to job losses and other stressors during this time. Your generosity will ensure that they will have a stable place to find safety and connection during this slow ‘return-to-normal.’

For just $3.29, you can provide a hot nutritious dinner to a vulnerable neighbour, and remind them that they are loved and cared for during this pandemic. Please consider making a gift today.

You can also sign up for our email newsletter for updates, and inspirational stories to give you hope during this turbulent time.