Coordinating with key stakeholders to serve vulnerable populations in BC

Each day brings new experiences as we strive to meet the constantly shifting reality that has become our daily work through the COVID-19 outbreak.  While these past weeks have required all of us to make rapid decisions and adapt our course of action to the evolving landscape, it has also demonstrated the resiliency and strength in our organization and across our sector.

Across the province, essential service providers have been coming together to collectively share and allocate resources, expertise, and support in order to continue to provide comprehensive services to the people that we support in this time of exceptional need, while also doing all that we can to keep our residents, our service users, our staff,  and our wider communities safe.

The influx of support and collaboration that we have seen in response to COVID-19 is truly inspiring, and is something that I would like to touch on further today as a source of hope and encouragement in these times where such news is greatly needed.

We have seen so many members of our community offering their support and solidarity to us and our service users.

It is truly remarkable to see the incredible efforts everyone is making to work together through this crisis. Having support from funders and stakeholders across the sector, as well as from the wider community, makes all the difference in our ability to serve vulnerable community members. We are incredibly thankful for those who have been in touch with us with offerings of support; whether it be donations (of personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, money, or essential items like nonperishable food), acts of encouragement, messages of thanks, sharing of information and resources, or other forms of support, it has not only allowed us to keep our focus on service delivery, but it renews our motivation.

This is a difficult time for everyone, but seeing how people have come together in the face of adversity is invigorating.

We are continuing to work collaboratively with our partners, funders, and other service providers to share resources and best practices.

The circumstances surrounding COVID-19 continue to evolve rapidly. With our reality changing day-by-day, and even hour-by-hour, our ability to lean on and coordinate with one another has allowed us to quickly go from reactive to proactive.

The JHS has been working closely with our regional affiliates, as well as with other service providers, governments, and networks across BC to share resources, systems, and information. We are leveraging our networks to streamline questions and requests to ensure that we all get the information and resources we need to provide safe and effective essential services as rapidly as possible.

Together, we are proactively planning for, and responding to, COVID-19. We are working together to share best practices and approaches on service delivery; to acquire personal protection equipment (PPEs), food, and disinfecting supplies; and to collate resources that we can share with service providers and service users such as infographics, fact sheets, and strategies for staying engaged and connected amidst social distancing measures.

Each time a resource or creative idea is shared, it is saving precious time for another service provider. 

This greatly enhances our ability to focus our attention on the vulnerable people that we serve and our staff teams through this challenging time.

Last night, the Province of BC formally declared Community Social Services as an essential service. While this highlights what we already recognized about the supports that we provide to vulnerable community members, it is also an encouraging step in assuring our organizations that we can remain focused on the health and safety of our service users and our staff.

I am honoured to be a part of our organization, and so proud of the work that JHS affiliates and community social service providers across BC do every day, and particularly through this unprecedented time.

We’ve been able to search far and wide for creative strategies to ensure we have the resources we need to continue operations as best as we can.

From having connected with many service providers, governments, and associations across BC over the past weeks, we’ve been amazed by the determination, innovation, and collaboration in service delivery as we all work to identify creative ways that we can support vulnerable populations through this challenging time. From partnerships with local grocery stores and restaurants to ensure that large residential programs are able to secure the quantities of food required to support their residents, to connections made with beauty suppliers or other businesses to source masks and gloves that are not being used due to closures, there are many examples of the innovation taking place across our communities.

Believe me when I say that we are in no short supply of determination and creative ideas.

Amidst the challenges we’re up against, our industry and community are coming together to find creative solutions that work. By working together, we can help reduce risks associated with COVID-19 for our employees, volunteers, clients, and the public at large, while also responding to COVID-19 more efficiently and effectively.

We’re committed to the work that we’re doing, and to continuing to move forward together.

Thank you to our staff teams, who have displayed an unwavering determination in the work that they do. Thank you to our funders, supporters, and community members who have provided us with support and assistance through these uncharted waters. And thank you to each and every person and organization that has reached out with much needed essential donations. We are so appreciative of the contributions that everyone is making to support our sector and the vulnerable people we serve during this time.


Mark Miller

Chief Executive Officer of the JHSLM
& Executive Officer of the JHSBC