Distress Centre Calgary has provided 24 hour crisis support to our community for 50 years. We have responded to over 2.5 million calls, emails, chats, texts and counselling requests since April 14, 1970. And we want to be here for all Calgarians during this unprecedented global pandemic…
On March 17th, for the safety of our staff and volunteers, we closed our doors to visitors. Within a week, we mobilized 80 staff to continue 24 hour support to our community remotely from home. There was no disruption to our 24 hour services. Since 1970 our highly trained volunteers have been the heart and soul of Distress Centre; in 2019 our volunteers spent 44,763 hours in our contact centre supporting Calgarians in crisis, but the COVID-19 epidemic has forced Distress Centre to use only staff during this turbulent time. This has put incredible financial strain on our budget.
When we closed our doors on March 17th, like so many other organizations, we had no idea how long we would be working from home. The reality for us is that the cost of doing business remotely and without our volunteers over the course of 3 months is an additional $355,100 beyond what was budgeted for in 2020. Furthermore, we are anticipating that the need for our 24 hour crisis and 211 services will increase in the coming days and weeks. We are already experiencing a rapidly increasing volume of contacts related to COVID-19, along with feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness/isolation. We know that prolonged social isolation can cause a post-traumatic stress response and feelings of confusion and anger. We are bracing ourselves for the impact of this pandemic on our community, and the inevitable increase in demand for our 24 hour crisis and 211 services.
The citizens of Calgary are in crisis. They need to know that they can call, email, chat and text Distress Centre for support. We have recently expanded the hours in which we offer chat and text, as we know our service users are more than twice as likely to discuss suicide online. We need your gift today so that we can continue to be a lifeline for people who are suffering during this very difficult time.
The total estimated Increase in staffing and technology costs from April 1 – June 30th is $355,100.
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