Shelters desperate for volunteers as demand spikes
The David Busby Centre in November, 2019 (CTV Barrie, Aileen Doyle)
BARRIE, ONT. -- The David Busby Shelter is feeling the pinch at a time when demand is at its highest amid the ongoing pandemic. Volunteers are needed to fill nearly 15 jobs at either the Barrie or Collingwood locations.
"There's not a magic wand that's going to fix all these issues that we're seeing right now," said executive director of The David Busby Centre, Sara Peddle.
Peddle added that they need to ramp up their team to meet the need.
"We're seeing over 110 people a night within the shelter, and our outreach teams are seeing anywhere between 45 and 50 people that are unsheltered that are living on the streets," she said.
The David Busby Centre has been feeling the pandemic's strain for months, but Peddle explained that now they are finding it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
With a nearly 50 per cent increase in demand, shelter workers find it challenging to take time off, even when they aren't well or if they are required to get a COVID-19 test.
"We know it's a matter of time that the mental health of working in this environment, general health concerns -- there's going to be a point where we can't maintain safety levels," said Peddle.
Before COVID, 25 people on staff was enough. Since the pandemic, that number has increased to over 70, but Peddle said it's still not enough to meet the spike in numbers.
And if staff numbers don't increase, neither can shelter capacity.
Julien Michaud has been working with the Barrie centre for over a year and said that the need is critical. While the work can be trying at times, Michaud said it's also the most gratifying.
"It's rewarding, and there's a lot we can offer as human beings to help those people," said Michaud.
If you are interested in joining the team, have a background in volunteer, social and outreach work, send them an e-mail.