SFU, community organizations and Telus organized a donation of 100 phones and 20 tablets to vulnerable and isolated Burnaby residents.

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Vulnerable Burnaby residents brought online thanks to community partnerships

May 15, 2020
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How would you cope with distancing and isolation if you couldn’t access the Internet? Or if you didn’t have a phone? That was a reality for a number of people in Burnaby, and now, thanks to the quick and ready participation of countless community leaders and city-run organizations in Burnaby, it’s not.

In March and April, an alliance between Burnaby community members, Telus, and SFU staff collaborated to get vulnerable communities online during the COVID-19 emergency. Together, they provided a donation of 100 phones and 20 tablets to vulnerable and isolated Burnaby community members.   

“It was immediately clear that COVID-19 would significantly impact the most vulnerable in Burnaby,” says Tara Flynn, coordinator of Civic and Community Engagement at SFU. “Food and housing insecurity, isolation and access to technology became themes around which the community members organized in order to offer relief to seniors, families, newcomers to Canada, and the homeless.”

Simon Fraser University Office of Community Engagement championed the initiative and was supported by Telus Mobility for Good COVID Response efforts, which supplied the hardware and data/text plans.

The devices were distributed to community groups including: MOSAIC, Burnaby Youth Hub, Dixon Transition House, Burnaby Hospice Society, Burnaby Neighbourhood House, Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion, Byrne Creek Community School, Cameray Child and Family Services, Progressive Housing and Homeless Society, Options Community Services, and the SFU Surrey TD Community Engagement Centre.

The SFU Office of Community Engagement partnered with the Burnaby Primary Care Network, an organization who provides social support and financial resources to tackle ongoing COVID-related issues affecting residents in Burnaby.

To help link SFU to community organizations, the SFU Office of Community Engagement initiated the SFU-Community COVID-19 Response and Recovery Network—a network with weekly Zoom calls and a Slack workspace, allowing people to connect, build and share resources, and create a positive difference during unstable times.

The creation of the Network offers the opportunity for all of us to be SFU ambassadors and to get connected and involved in what is happening in our cities,” says Flynn.

To get involved with the SFU-Community COVID-19 Response and Recovery Network, join the weekly calls or the Slack workspace here.

To learn about the Burnaby Primary Care Network programs, initiatives and resources developed from the community-led response, check out the Burnaby Coronavirus Network website.