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Coronavirus: Alberta Facebook groups offering support amid COVID-19 pandemic

Alberta Facebook groups offering support amid COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: Facebook groups in Edmonton and Calgary are connecting people who have COVID-19 concerns with those offering help. Nicole Stillger reports.

At a time when we are supposed to be distancing ourselves for safety — Albertans are coming together in spirit through the internet.

In Edmonton, a Facebook group — YEG Community Response to COVID-19 — is aimed at connecting people in need with those offering to help any way they can.

“Often times it’s people at the grass roots who can mobilize the fastest and get out to community,” Renée Vaugeois said Sunday.

“It’s the people who are the most marginalized, the people who are left really isolated that we really need to reach out to.”

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Vaugeois initiated the online community Friday. In just a couple of days, thousands joined. By Monday morning, there were nearly 6,000 members.

“I was assuming this when I started it that people — when they would post a request for support — that people would pick it up right away, and I’m seeing that,” she said.

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She is one of about 40 volunteers now behind the group. Teams have been set up to moderate the page and identify needs, from mental health supports to basic supplies.

“There’s a team organizing around the different wards … throughout the city by region to make sure we can support effectively,” Vaugeois explained.

Sienna Holden is one of the administrators for a similar group in Calgary — YYC COVID-19 Volunteers.

YYC COVID 19 Volunteers Facebook page.
YYC COVID 19 Volunteers Facebook page. Facebook

“The more we can connect now, the more proactive we can be,” she said Sunday.

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She said people started connecting just hours after that Facebook page went up Friday.

“It’s really practical stuff people are asking for,” Holden said.

“I think a lot of what we are also seeing is people are really scared — they are needing a place to express that.”

Cases of coronavirus in Alberta have risen to 56, up by 17 in last 24 hours: Premier Kenney
Cases of coronavirus in Alberta have risen to 56, up by 17 in last 24 hours: Premier Kenney

Holden admitted to feeling a bit anxious herself but says it feels good to put her energy into something productive, to bring people comfort.

“It’s really inspiring and encouraging to see so much positivity,” Holden said.

“So many people just caring for each other, because at the end of the day that’s really all we can do.”

Both Holden and Vaugeois hope the forums continue to grow, but the response so far they said, inspires confidence.

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“I’m feeling really positive — I haven’t seen anybody just left hanging,” Vaugeois said.

Similar groups for childcare also popped up Sunday afternoon after the Alberta government announced immediate cancellation of all kindergarten to Grade 12 classes and the closure of licenced child care programs in the province.