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Barrhead FCSS now offering curbside visits

Provincial Alberta Social Services COVID-19 grant allows non-profit society allows them to expand their services to help vulnerable populations
Dewsnap COVID-19 grant
Barrhead FCSS executive director, pictured here at a 2019 County of Barrhead council meeting, not-for-profit society recently added some services thanks to a provinicial COVID-19 grant.

BARRHEAD-The Barrhead and District Community Family Support Services (FCSS) is taking some of its services on the road.

Last month the FCSS learned they successfully received a Support for COVID-19 grant from Alberta Social Services and since that time have been working on plans on how to use the funds to their fullest.

Executive director Shelley Dewsnap said early on they identified the food bank and Thrive (family violence and relationship abuse prevention program) would be the recipients of the bulk of the funding.

"We were just thrilled to receive this funding. It will help us serve vulnerable populations during the pandemic," she said, adding she FCSS estimates that because of the funding they will be able to serve an extra 3,000-4,000 residents. Vulnerable populations include seniors, low-income families, families experiencing job loss or violence or people who have trouble accessing services because of their location or transportation issues.

For the food bank, she said it allows them to build larger hampers that will last families longer.

Dewsnap said FCSS is also expecting the food bank to have an increase in clients as some of the provincial and federal COVID-19 funding begins to end.

The food bank will use the extra funding, in part, to increase the size of food hampers as well as adding a partial delivery service into the County of Barrhead.

Dewsnap said for those clients who are having difficulty accessing the food bank because they are having trouble getting into Barrhead they can arrange to meet them at a more convenient location in the county, such as a community hall.

She said FCSS also expects an influx of requests for Thrive services as the stresses on relationships are exacerbated due to the virus. She noted that the grant will not only give them the flexibility to increase Thrive's services but prolong them.

The program had been expected to come to an end next March after its community funding ran out.

The grant will also be used to fund new programs to help people connect while they are in various levels of self-isolation.

"Our new COVID connections coordinator Tarra Mackinnon is also working on creating connection hampers that include things like family games, puzzles, other activities and hand sanitizer," Dewsnap said. "So if anyone is staying home because they are self-isolating, are at home because they have children at home, this can help them pass the time."

Mackinnon is also heading a COVID curbside connection program where she organizes social calls in-person with appropriate social distancing, virtual visits or weekly telephone conversations.

"We realize isolation for some is going to be more difficult, so people know of anyone that is feeling the emotional impact of being confined ... Tarra is a good listener and conversationalist and just wants to help people stay connected," Dewsnap said.

FCSS is in the final stages of its re-opening plan and Dewsnap suspect their doors will be open to the public starting June 15.

For more information about Barrhead FCSS' programming call 780-674-3341.

Barry Kerton, TownandCountryToday.com

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