An online campaign to support vulnerable communities in the Greater Vancouver area during the COVID-19 pandemic has raised more than $29,000 in a matter of days.
A group of volunteers and community members have also formed a Facebook group called "COVID-19 Coming Together (Vancouver)," which aims to collect food, supplies, and financial relief for their neighbours before government funding begins in April. As of March 23, the group has over 27,000 members.
People and families in need can apply for financial aid (up to $100 per request) through an online form. From there, these applications are vetted by a team of volunteers who prioritize those deemed most vulnerable.
Organizers state that, "funds will be distributed by eTransfer or in cash through neighbourhood houses, for those without banking access."
"We have seen firsthand both how resilient this city can be – as well as how many need our help,” says Yolanda Clatworthy, one of the group’s organizers. “Our community cannot wait until April for government relief funding – people need to buy food and pay their bills today."
The GoFundme campaign description highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic will disproportionately and unevenly impact different populations, such as migrants, racialized people, people with precarious work or insecure housing, poor people, disabled people and elders.
Clatworthy adds that, “Our goal is to fill the immediate gap and get people funds as quickly as possible. We hope that only those with real, urgent needs will apply to receive financial aid, while we are also relying on Vancouver’s generosity to help us meet our target of $100,000.”
“The pandemic is creating an unprecedented threat to many of the most vulnerable – including Indigenous People, people of colour, transgender and nonbinary people, and disabled people,” says Avery Shannon, another of the group’s core organizers.
Modelled on the efforts by the Seattle Mutual Aid Solidarity Network, both the Facebook group and GoFundMe campaign build off the Canadian “caremongering” movement that has gained global attention.
As of Tuesday morning, the GoFundMe campaign has raised just more than $29,000 of its $100,000 goal and has been shared 1,200 times.
Find out more information about the GoFundMe campaign here.