Hotline helps connect Calgary's cultural communities with COVID-19 resources

A team operating in Calgary's northeast has created a rapid response hotline to help cultural communities with COVID-19-related support.

Calgary East Zone Newcomers Collaborative offers services in 20 languages as part of effort to flatten curve

Edwin Chavez is one of the cultural brokers who helps connect those in need with help in their own language. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

A team operating in Calgary's northeast has created a rapid response hotline to help cultural communities with COVID-19-related support.

The Calgary East Zone Newcomers Collaborative, which includes 16 different agencies, connects people of various backgrounds to someone who understands their language and culture,

Support is currently offered in 20 languages, from Tagalog to Tigrinya, and includes advice on workplace rights and more.

Edwin Chavez is one of the team's cultural brokers, who connects people to resources including food hampers, financial support and mental health support.

"I do community outreach so so that members of our communities will be informed about this emergency and rapid support for families who are negatively affected by this pandemic," he said. 

He says speaking the same language helps put people at ease to get resources they didn't know they had.

"You feel good when you are able to help community members, especially those who are in need," said Chavez.

The northeast quadrant has been hit hard by the pandemic and the province has already sent in teams to go door-to-door with hampers and information for residents. 

Jun Naraval, policy and program manager with Action Dignity, one of the groups that forms the collaboration, says the program is helping to flatten the pandemic curve. 

"What we want to make sure is that those who are affected by COVID-19, those that are positive, those that probably are in isolation, those are impacted by this, that they could go into an isolation in a dignified way," he said. 

Those who need help, or more information, can call 1-833-217-6614 in order to be connected to someone who can help. All calls are free and confidential. 

With files from Julie Debeljak


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