In June 2021, the Seniors Services Society of BC (SSSBC) with the support of the Mayor and Council from the City of New Westminster, partnered with the Hey Neighbour Collective (HNC), a network of Community Practice partners, working to strengthen social connections and resilience among neighbours living in multi-unit housing.

The Hey Neighbour Collective is a social innovation initiative housed at Simon Fraser University, which brings together housing providers, non-profits, researchers, local governments, and residents to create strategies that reduce social isolation while building capacity for neighbourly support and mutual aid.

The importance and the benefits of social connections and support through friends, neighbours, family, and community have never been more pressing. Over the past few years, the New Westminster seniors’ population faced new and worsening challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic and multiple extreme weather events, including the 2021 Heat Dome, highlighted and exacerbated existing inequalities, particularly within the seniors’ community. Seniors who live alone and who lack community support have faced loneliness and isolation during the pandemic and extreme weather conditions.

SSSBC staff worked with the City of New Westminster Emergency Preparedness Team and the Hey Neighbour Collective to create programming for seniors focused on social connectedness, promoting aging in place and supporting emergency preparedness. As an outcome of this partnership, the City of New Westminster implemented Connect & Prepare at Ross Tower, a seniors-friendly building, thanks to generous support from the United Way of BC and the Healthy Communities Initiative.

Through free, accessible, facilitated workshops that include presentations, games, and discussions, neighbours learn about emergencies and stresses, identify priorities, and launch resiliency projects. Connect & Prepare Program participants will receive shared emergency supplies and access to micro-grants to help them continue to collaborate.

For more information, please contact SSSBC at 604-520-6621.

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