As the pandemic began, Bissell Centre provided regular updates through this blog post about how their operations had changed and how they were working hard to protect the community and keep the focus on participant safety during the rise of Covid-19
April 11 Update
We have had to make changes to the way we run our programs, like moving our Community Space to the Expo Centre, but we are still very much active and operational.
Today your support is needed more than ever. Your gifts make the following possible:
- Meals and bag lunches for those on the street
- Supporting people to get housing or stay housed so they can safely self-isolate
- Hampers with diapers and formula for Bissell families
- Protective items like masks and gloves for staff and participants
- Stability to ensure we come out of this crisis strong and can continue with projects such as the construction of the new childcare facility
March 25 Update
EXPO Centre / Service Changes
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to physically separate people all over the world, we also see individuals, communities and organizations banding together in their efforts to look after one another.
The new Isolation Shelter for Covid-19 relief and Drop-In Day Services at the Edmonton Expo Centre is a perfect example of how many entities are working together to respond to the current public health need.
Bissell Centre and our partners at Boyle Street Community Services have been identified as co-leads by Homeward Trust Edmonton, the organization tasked with coordinating the non-medical services side of the Expo Centre supports.
Boyle McCauley Health Centre has been identified as co-leads with Alberta Health Services to provide the medical services at the site. The City of Edmonton together with the Expo Centre team are providing logistical supports. Other partners include The Mustard Seed, George Spady Society, The Salvation Army & more.
All of these groups are coming together to support and serve those individuals in greatest need in our community; individuals who don’t have a home to isolate in, and are at risk of experiencing greater complications from Covid-19 due to an increase in compromised immune systems.
The 2 main functions of the EXPO Centre
While the Expo Centre will offer a variety of services for struggling community members who are experiencing homelessness, there are two main areas to the centre: medical and nonmedical. The medical side is a 24/7 shelter for folks with symptoms who need to be tested and have a supported space where they can isolate and be treated as needed.
The non-medical side is a large space where folks can access vital services throughout the day such as showers, meals, coffee, clothing, hygiene products etc. The site will soon also include, housing, cultural, mental health, and a number of other relevant supports, The day services run from 8 am to 8 pm.
Programming Changes at Bissell Centre
We are in an environment of constant, rapid change and the Bissell Centre team has shown incredible resilience in their ability to shift into crisis care. Here are a few updates to programming at Bissell Centre:
- Our Community Space operations have been moved to the Expo Centre
- Our vital housing programs remain operational
- Our Thrift Shop is closed for the time being BUT we are working on a plan for in-kind donations to support the ongoing needs of folks accessing our services at the Expo Centre
Together with our partner agencies, we will be constantly reviewing and assessing the impact of the changes we make to ensure we are best supporting our participants in this rapidly changing situation.
Thank you for checking in with us during this time. As the horizon changes, Bissell Centre will always work towards protecting the most vulnerable in our mission of eliminating poverty in our community.
How you can help
If it is in your means to give, we need your support more than ever. Please consider making a monetary donation and stay tuned for additional ways to support our work at this time.
March 20 Update
Please note: We are no longer accepting in-kind donations downtown.
For the safety of our staff and community, we are no longer accepting in-kind donations such as food, clothing, personal care items etc. at our main facilities downtown (10527-96st & 10530-96st).
The best way to support Bissell Centre at this time is by making a financial donation.
Please check back here for updates and new information, as things are changing rapidly.
March 16 Update
As recommendations rapidly change, Bissell Centre is adhering to the guidelines set out by the GoC, GoA and the City of Edmonton. There have been closures, recommended and issued, that greatly affect people experiencing poverty and homelessness.
Bissell Centre is coordinating with other social service agency partners, orders of Government and coordinating entities and we are working closely, sharing resources and training as well as staying in close communication with each other during this time. No one has all the answers but following the guidelines and working together has become apparent when making decisions that could affect many people.
For now, we can tell you that all volunteer activities and group programming have been suspended, along with the closing of our licensed daycare centre. We will continue to provide access to critical supports for people in need in a safe and supportive manner.
We want to assure our supporters, staff and community members that we are doing everything in our power, organizationally, to be on top of the changes. Our number one priority is keeping people accessing our services and employees, safe and supported.
Many people are wondering how they can help and we are incredibly grateful for the offers of support. We are encouraging financial donations at this time as we continue to assess emergency resources needed for community members and staff.
Gary St. Amand
Chief Executive Officer, Bissell Centre
March 12 Response
The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. Bissell Centre is deeply concerned that the effects of this virus add another risk to those experiencing poverty and homelessness. We know that those individuals are among those most vulnerable 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.
We are proactively planning to assist people as effectively as possible as the situation progresses. We remain committed to supporting those who are experiencing poverty and homelessness, many of whom rely daily on Bissell Centre for meals, basic needs and other important services.
While currently, we are not aware of any confirmed cases amongst our staff, volunteers, or people who access our services, we are preparing for a variety of possible scenarios.
How are we helping protect the safety of our community? At this time, Bissell Centre is implementing the following:
- Sharing information with staff, volunteers and people accessing our services on how to prevent and recognize COVID-19 and connect them with appropriate health supports
- Taking extra sanitation measures to clean all surfaces thoroughly and more frequently within Bissell Centre
- Regularly updating and implementing measures under our Business Continuity Plan
- Striking a Pandemic Response Team to coordinate our actions under our Business Continuity Plan
- Coordinating with partner agencies, government and health authorities to establish a proactive and collective COVID-19 strategy
Bissell Centre has been and will continue to carefully monitor and follow the guidance set out by the Canadian Health Authorities to facilitate the prevention, early detection and containment of the virus.
In the coming weeks, we recognize that we may need to equip our staff and community members with extra supplies and resources. Your continued support and encouragement are greatly appreciated as we navigate this uncertain time focused on Covid-19 safety for the community and our staff.
Gary St. Amand
Chief Executive Officer, Bissell Centre