How United Way Halifax is supporting wildfire recovery
A full month has passed since the wildfires broke out in Shelburne and Upper Tantallon/Hammonds Plains. The impact of these fires is still being felt in those communities. The people who have lost their homes and those who experienced the evacuation but were able to return home safely have unmet needs. The Wildfire Recovery Appeal was launched on May 30 to support those individuals and communities impacted by the wildfires. Here are some ways we’ve been using Wildfire Recovery Appeal funds to support short and mid-term needs.
Basic needs and relationship building
- United Way Halifax has been funding community organizations in Upper Tantallon, Hammonds Plains, Lucasville and Shelburne to help provide basic needs. These organizations are providing grocery store and gas gift cards, baby items and household items to people impacted by wildfires. A full list of the funded organizations can be found here, along with contact information for those currently offering services.
- In the community of Upper Tantallon and Hammonds Plains, Halifax Regional Municipality has set up a Community Hub. It is located in the parking lot of St. Margaret’s Centre. United Way has committed to being there every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. for the month of July. If you have any questions about the Wildfire Recovery Appeal or access to community supports, please stop by. HRM’s calendar for the space can be found on their website.
- In addition to checking in virtually, United Way staff have been travelling to Shelburne. This allows us to hear directly from community members and facilitate on the ground communication and community relationship building. This geographic area is new to our United Way, however the community is very connected and is welcoming and wonderful to work with. Their feedback has been very valuable. We’re currently looking into how best to share information about the organizations currently offering support.
Mental health and connection
- Mental health supports have been identified as a significant need in community. We have recently confirmed funding for the North End Community Health Centre. They are providing the services of a social worker to work out of the HRM Hub at St. Margaret’s Centre from Monday to Friday for the month of July, with an option to extend if needed. This resource will be available beginning July 6th between the hours of 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm on a walk-in, first-come, first-serve basis, with the exception of July 7th and 10th when provincial mental health supports will be available.
- Community members can also contact the North End Community Health Centre’s PAUSE clinic directly to book appointments for 45–minute evening individual counselling sessions if needed. We are also in discussions with multiple health organizations for to bring in additional supports in both the HRM and Shelburne Country communities.
Support for those who are uninsured
- As part of our response efforts, United Way Halifax is helping those impacted by the fires who were uninsured. Those without insurance have significantly higher needs, and sorting through the systems and available supports can be daunting. To support these individuals and help them to access resources, one of our staff is stepping into a temporary part-time role of Community Navigator. Michelle has a background in social work and a good understanding of navigation work and community services. If you or someone you know could benefit from this support, please email email@example.com
We’re here for you
As needs related to the wildfire continue to change, United Way Halifax will be there. The unexpected costs can be challenging. We know that asking for help isn’t easy, and encourage you to self-identify if you need support. We expect funding to continue to flow into these communities over the next six months.