Innovative local partnership will provide meals and phone calls for lonely seniors


Isolated seniors in our communities are one of the most vulnerable populations even before the context of a global pandemic. Many deal with overwhelming loneliness, have difficulty coping, and may live without supports like family, friends or doctors. These issues, among many others, are compounded by the new challenges posed by COVID-19. 

Normally, seniors across our region rely on day-programming where they can socialize with others, participate in physical activity, eat well and maintain a connection to their community.

Since those over 65 are most at risk of contracting and becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19, day programs have had to close their doorsleaving seniors isolated and disconnected. Stuck in their homes, they are afraid for what might happen to them.

Seniors are worried about being unable to do anything about it. They feel alone.

United Way East Ontario works year-round with donors and partners to ensure our region’s seniors maintain their independence while building strong social connections. In light of this global crisis, our mission to support our communities’ most vulnerable is more important than ever before.

Together with The Good Companions seniors’ centre, we’re announcing an innovative new partnership to mobilize volunteers and help isolated seniors as our communities grapple with COVID-19.

This partnership will provide more than 1,500 ready-made meals to approximately 400 seniors and adults with disabilities in Ottawa. This will ensure seniors who face food insecurity because of financial or transportation barriers are not left behind through this public health challenge. 

In addition, in response to the requirement of physical distancing, we’re training volunteers to conduct one-on-one wellness checks via telephone to the more than 400 seniors who would normally attend in-person programming at The Good Companions. 

“Things are difficult for seniors in our region as they face challenges to access groceries or join social programs. We’re grateful to United Way East Ontario for enabling us to help seniors as we adapt and do whatever we can to support them in this very challenging time.”

Reaching seniors across our region.

To maintain social interaction between seniors, we will train and deploy more than 40 staff from seniors-serving agencies to build the capacity of the telephone-based Seniors Centre Without Walls (SCWW) program. SCWW allows seniors to call into group activities, and to speak with each other and staff to increase socialization and connection.

The service will be provided in English, French, Mandarin and Cantonese, through community agencies across Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark County and Renfrew County.

Just the beginning.

This investment is the first step of many that we will take as a result of the generosity of people across East Ontario. On March 29, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government would join United Ways in supporting vulnerable seniors across Canada.

“While this work with The Good Companions was already in the works for us here at United Way East Ontario, we hope to continue our important work for seniors with this new support from the federal government going forward. We hope this is just the beginning.”

In early March, in partnership with Ottawa Public Health and dozens of organizations across the community sector, United Way launched an initiative to help support the most vulnerable in response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) affecting our region. To learn more about supporting the initiative, or if you require community service assistance, please visit




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