Dr. Alina Turner
CEO & Co-Founder, HelpSeeker
CEO, End Homelessness Winnipeg
Project Manager, Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters (MAWS)
Tech social enterprise HelpSeeker has partnered with social sector leaders to support vulnerable populations.
When the COVID-19 crisis struck, Canadian tech social enterprise HelpSeeker partnered with social sector leaders and innovators to identify organizations that are providing support and services during the pandemic and to get them listed on the HelpSeeker app for everyone to find quickly. “We know disasters impact vulnerable groups, especially those at risk of or experiencing violence and homelessness, and that new ways of getting updated information to those in need quickly are needed,” notes Lucille Bruce, CEO of End Homelessness Winnipeg, a key partner in the COVID-19 social response.
Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters (MAWS) Project Manager Lesley Lindberg explains, “As we all work together in these extraordinary times to keep the most vulnerable in our society safe and healthy, there’s a need now more than ever to coordinate our actions and have clear information available to frontline workers and those we serve. Women’s shelters are reporting that staying home and self-isolating with the added dimensions of stress can be an explosive mix for those experiencing abuse in the home. We need to ensure we have a fulsome social response in place to mitigate and prevent social issues for vulnerable families.”
Already, there are over 2,300 listings and 17,000 services supporting this social response in Manitoba on helpseeker.org, bringing the national total to 117,000. In the last 30 days, HelpSeeker saw a tripling of interactions to almost 100,000 in Canada compared to the month of February. Looking at the top needs overall, there was a jump in people looking at education/training, food and housing, and mental health and addictions supports. But when HelpSeeker honed in on COVID-19-related needs specifically, they confirmed service providers’ reports: addiction, abuse, mental health, and domestic violence were at the top of the list after health.
The numbers are showing increased demand, but what’s been encouraging has been the community stepping up. Just over 240 new COVID-19 services have registered in Manitoba on HelpSeeker to date, bringing the national total to 1,600. “It’s encouraging to see the innovative ways to connect people with resources and supports during the COVID-19 pandemic. This technology is needed to ensure people can quickly access information and resources,” says the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs and MP for Saint Boniface—Saint Vital.
There’s no way any one group can keep up with the speed of change happening right now.Dr. Alina Turner, CEO & Co-Founder of HelpSeeker
By creating a searchable tag for COVID-19 and opening up the ability to list supports and services to the general community, the HelpSeeker app is helping create a comprehensive list of available services by providing those offering services the ability to populate the site with their information. “There’s no way any one group can keep up with the speed of change happening right now. This is the time for innovative technology solutions that use crowdsourcing to get us through this crisis — we’re thankful to have the opportunity to pitch in,” notes HelpSeeker CEO and Co-Founder, Dr. Alina Turner. “This is another example of the incredible, innovative work taking place in our community,” Terry Duguid, MP for Winnipeg South, adds.