Catholic Social Services launches Sign of Hope fundraising as demand for services for seniors, homeless increase amid COVID-19

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Davies said more seniors are feeling lonely and isolated during the pandemic, even as they struggle to pay bills, afford food and buy basic necessities.

He said there’s also been a 10 per cent increase in intake at the Welcome Home program that offers social connections and support for people who have recently been people recently found permanent housing.

Demand for the St. Zita Calls for Assistance program — which helps people find shelter, and people with addictions, facing family violence and food security — has nearly doubled since the pandemic began.

Though their fiscal year runs until March 2021, as of September they had already reached the budget for calls in Red Deer, Davis said.

“This doesn’t mean we will stop answering the phone, but it does mean we need now for Albertans to answer our call for assistance,” he said.

Frank, an Edmonton man who only gave his first name and has experienced homelessness and addiction, said at the Tuesday news conference the Welcome Home program has helped him stay sober and housed.

“The worst thing for an addict, especially a recovering addict is to be alone. Idle hands, idle minds, it’s not long before you’re using again,” he said. “Once you start using again you’re back on the streets, or dead. I didn’t want either.”

He said the program helped him find meaningful social connection that helped him feel normal again.

“I’ve been housed for a while, but believe me, in an instant I could be back on the street. All it takes is one bad decision on my part … when I’m with people it’s a little harder to use,” he said.

“Welcome Home, CSS, they’re out there to help. And I am beneffitting from it, I am becoming more human, I am becoming more social. What can I say, but thanks.”

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

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