top of page

Poverty, Homelessness and COVID-19: Boyle Street Community Services' Response to the Global Pandemic

The C5 Hub Offering Light Through the Darkness of COVID-19

Boyle Street Community Services works in a ground-breaking partnership with five other non-profit agencies to operate the C5 Northeast Hub, which provides employment, family, and housing services, and programs for children and seniors. Our partners at the Hub include the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, Norwood Child and Family Resource Centre, and Terra Centre. Through the Hub, we meet the need for services in North East Edmonton.

In our fifth and final blog post in our “Poverty, Homelessness and COVID-19: Boyle Street Community Services' Response to the Global Pandemic” series, we interviewed Felicia Wilson, the Family Resource Network Operations Support at the C5 Northeast Hub, to give us an idea of how the Hub has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic was declared mid-March 2020, like most organizations, the Hub closed its doors and transitioned to online programming. While adapting to new forms of service delivery has been a challenge for both staff and clients, the Hub continues to innovate by developing new programs to meet the needs of North East Edmonton.

“A lot of our programs that would have otherwise been in person transitioned online,” explains Wilson. “Zoom was utilized a lot and we began offering our Health for Two and other parent education programs through this platform. We also transitioned our parent-child programs and youth groups to online platforms.”

When schools closed to in-person learning in March, it was extremely difficult for the Hub’s clients. Many clients were faced with language barriers and found it very hard to interact with their children’s schools through online portals. Additionally, many clients did not have access to the technology that they needed to participate in online schooling. In response, the Hub organized a successful laptop drive that saw 500 computers or tablets handed out to clients who needed them for schoolwork or to stay connected with loved ones. The Hub also offered homework help for students over video-conferencing  which was appreciated by parents who already had their hands full during the lockdown. 

NE Hub Client receiving a laptop from the laptop drive
NE Hub Client receiving a laptop from the laptop drive

During the lockdown, the Hub remained open in one crisis response capacity: providing food to those who desperately needed it. In response to rising food insecurity in Edmonton, the Hub staff began to brainstorm ways to provide supplies to clients who were facing barriers to accessing food; this is how the Pantry Program was born. 

The Hub is equipped with plenty of food storage capacity in its community