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Westlock FCSS program aims to help the isolated

Community Connectors hoping to reach more people
wes community connectors
Westlock FCSS are hoping more people will use their new Community Connectors program.

WESTLOCK – A new Westlock & District Family and Community Support Services program aimed at helping people socially isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic is looking to increase its profile.

Community Connectors has been running since the fall of 2020, but as of the middle of January only three people have used it. FCSS’ Maureen Schiller said they believe in the program and are hoping to spread the word and get more people involved.

“We were hoping it would be a little more successful. So, we’re trying to create some more awareness about the program and that it’s out there and we do have volunteers wanting to connect with people,” said Schiller.

The program’s aim is simple — give people feeling socially isolated the opportunity to speak with someone weekly on the phone. All three who’ve signed up for the program are seniors, but Schiller said it’s available for anyone in need.

“Out of COVID we saw a need for this group to come together — and COVID isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s a program for individuals who are in need of social support. It could be a conversation, or just someone to keep them company,” she explained.

“But our volunteers are also equipped with a little bit of knowledge of things to potentially look for if people are in need of different agencies, or if the client is in need of other supports as well.”

“It’s somewhat of a helpline, for lack of a better term,” town director of community services Gerry Murphy told councillors at their Jan. 11 meeting. “It enables our residents to reach out. It also lets them know that they’re not alone no matter how isolated they may be or feel.”

So far eight volunteers, who they’ve dubbed ‘connectors’, have signed up. Now they just need more people to connect with.

“We’ve taken information from more people who want to volunteer, but we have no one to connect them to,” said Schiller.

“The volunteers have access to information and services through Alberta Health Services and FCSS and others,” added Murphy.

For more information on the program contact Schiller at the FCSS officer at 780-349-5551.

George Blais, TownandCountryToday.com