Since March 16 following the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s recommendations on social distancing, Estevan Family Resource Centre put their drop-in service on pause and suspended all of their children programmings. But that didn't mean that they quit educating and supporting their patrons.
All programming has switched to a virtual format. The centre employees are still working and improving the options they offer, but already now they can steadily provide a substantial amount of information, lessons and other services via various platforms.
“The kids’ classes are being done online. For the next little while, we’ll evaluate it as it comes. There will be a schedule of what programs are happening at what times,” said the family centre’s executive director Colleen Macmillan.
They also recently started a YouTube channel called Estevan Family Resource Centre, so that any programs they do go up on their channel and parents can access them and participate with their children at their convenience. All links along with other useful information are published on the centre's Facebook page. Besides, they post some activities and suggestions on their Instagram account and use Zoom platform for webinars or any open-format discussions.
Centre’s counselling and support services have also been moved to phone format.
“The line is still operational and people can still call 306-634-7234 for counselling and support services and that will go directly to the counsellor. And that is open access to anyone. That service is free as well,” said Macmillan.
There are no specific hours of operation. If people do call and can’t reach a counsellor at that moment, someone will return their call within 24 hours.
Macmillan hopes that with the variety of platforms they use, most people will be able to access their services.
“We felt that this was the best direction to go moving forward and that would enable people to stay connected because right now it is vitally important to everybody’s mental health to stay connected in some form,” said Macmillan.
Social media provide a broad platform for interaction during the time of quarantine, and Macmillan said that so far people seem to be satisfied with the services they offer online.
“Everybody seems to be happy that they have some options. With families at home with their children, many families are struggling as to what they are going to do with their kids during the day, how to establish some form of routine in their days and with it just being unpredictable now knowing how long this is going to be,” said Macmillan.