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Women’s Resource Centre sees demand soar

A surge in demand at a support charity led to a burst of generosity to help people affected by the Covid-19 crisis, its executive director said yesterday.

Elaine Butterfield, of the Women's Resource Centre, revealed that almost $300,000 was raised since the middle of March, when the island's first cases of the coronavirus were confirmed and the impact on the economy started to become apparent.

She explained yesterday: “We shut down the office and started to work from home with the intention of looking at the services that we were already providing to women and continuing to provide them as the need was met.

“But we immediately found that the great demand for food was overwhelming.

“From the beginning, we were fielding probably 50 phone calls plus e-mails every day and that included weekends.

“We had left a voice message on our main line to contact us in case of emergency only and the phone started ringing at 7am until 11pm including weekends — that probably lasted 2½ months straight. The demand was incredible.

“After the second month, the need for counselling arose as well.”

Ms Butterfield added: “When we recognised that the demand was so overwhelming we decided to reach out for financial help ... we did a Facebook drive initially and that availed much because people just started giving when they recognised the need.

“We also wrote a letter to our corporate supporters and let them know the need that we were prepared to address but that we needed the funding in order to address it.

“We cannot thank the people in the community — individuals, organisations, corporate organisations — enough for the tremendous outpouring of support that they have given to us.”

Ms Butterfield, who is assisted at the WRC by Cheryl Minors, said that the charity's supporters were told there was “an unprecedented need” as people found themselves out of work.

She added: “Up until recently there has been such a sense of panic because people just don't know.

“We don't know how long this was going to last, what's going to happen when it's all over and I believe just the fact that we don't know has driven a lot of the fear and anxiety.”

She said that the organisation was trying to make the funds last and hoped to be able to provide assistance for groceries until at least the end of next month.

Nancy Talbot, of Smith's, was among the women who was grateful to receive a grocery voucher.

She said that she was forced to retire from her position as a corporate administrator at a law firm last year and has been unable to secure full-time employment since then.

Ms Talbot lost her ten-hours-a-week job cleaning offices when the impact of Covid-19 hit but she did not qualify for the Government's benefits programme.

The mother-of-one, who volunteers with the WRC, added: “I'm very happy there and I find they're so caring and generous.”

Ms Talbot said that she “danced and danced” when she received a grocery voucher, which made a “tremendous difference”.

She added: “I'm sure there are quite a few people in my position that are very appreciative of the vouchers that were distributed.”

Another woman, who is in her 50s, was made redundant last year and struggled to find work but had to manage financial commitments like her mortgage as well as tuition fees and rental payments for her three children in university.

She said that the challenges mounted when “coronavirus really hit”.

The woman explained: “I had been looking for jobs and trying to figure out how I'm going to make money to get groceries and then there's Belco, the bank, all of it — but eat first, you have to eat.

“When I heard the Women's Resource Centre were helping people ... I called and it was like God's been walking me through this, he's right there, he's putting everything in its place.

“The Women's Resource Centre was there when I needed it.”

The Women's Resource Centre is planning an online series of “reinventing yourself” workshops on June 23, 30 and July 7. Further details will be released soon

In demand: Elaine Butterfield, the executive director of the Women's Resource Centre, left, and executive assistant Cheryl Minors have kept grocery supplies on standby for those in need (Photograph by Fiona McWhirter).

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Published June 17, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated June 17, 2020 at 9:48 am)

Women’s Resource Centre sees demand soar

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