With COVID-19 having shut down social gatherings (like this one pre-pandemic) at Sidney SHOAL Centre, Beacon Community Services is operating a hotline to check in on seniors and other vulnerable populations and handle requests for assistance. (Black Press Media File)

With COVID-19 having shut down social gatherings (like this one pre-pandemic) at Sidney SHOAL Centre, Beacon Community Services is operating a hotline to check in on seniors and other vulnerable populations and handle requests for assistance. (Black Press Media File)

Sidney senior welcomes outreach phone calls from charity

A long-time user of Sidney’s SHOAL Centre, praises Beacon Community Services

Jill Somerset has always had a fondness for Sidney’s SHOAL Centre for Seniors.

Living across from the facility near the Sidney-North Saanich branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library, the 77-year-old can see the facility from her apartment.

Not surprisingly, she has frequently dropped in to the centre, playing table tennis among other activities.

“I’m a regular at SHOAL,” said Somerset, who has lived in Sidney for 18 years. “I have always participated in what they do, and they are so kind over there. They help everyone.”

But this social aspect of Somerset’s life came to an abrupt end when the facility became among the first to close in Sidney because of COVID-19, shutting its doors on March 13. SHOAL hosts a wide range of activities for seniors, their caregivers and family members. SHOAL’s assisted living home on the centre’s upper floors remains open and the SHOAL kitchen will continue to provide food services to residents, but remains closed to the public.

RELATED: Public life grinding to a halt on the Saanich Peninsula

The centre, however, has nonetheless remained a part of her life. She recently received a call from the centre to see how she was faring.

“That was very thoughtful of them all, because there are a lot of seniors in this area,” she said. “They are a great service anyway, even if we don’t have any problems. They have so many activities going on. It’s a perfect place.”

The call itself came from volunteers with Beacon Community Services, the charity running the service. Kerry Readshaw, director of communication for Beacon Community Services, said volunteers connected with more than 300 seniors across the Peninsula over 48 hours. At the same time, a handful of individuals had called its information line at 250-656-5537.

“We are finding at this point, we are hearing ‘I’m okay now, dear,’” said Readshaw. But she anticipates that this sentiment will change over time, with individuals starting to reach out to the hotline for assistance with access to food and medicine the top of issues facing seniors.

Somerset for her part said she is doing “generally okay” under the circumstances.

“It’s a bit lonely,” said Somerset, who tries to get exercise by walking near the closed library branch, enjoying nearby gardens. “I put on my mask and my disposable gloves, and I go for a walk, and most people that I have met on walks are giving the [recommended] social distance.”

Since the local start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Somerset has had few, if any chances to meet others in her apartment complex.

“I haven’t talked to the other tenants in this place, because we don’t see each very often,” she said.

With face-to-face contact limited, Somerset has been chatting with others over the phone. “My friends and I talk,” she said. “We say ‘how are you doing?’” With a network of friends across the area, Somerset is not lacking of conversation partners. “In fact, I have had a couple of calls from England, because they are going through the same situation, by the sounds a lot worse, because London is in a really sorry state.”

From Somerset’s perspective, the pandemic appears “pretty dramatic” and sees most people becoming increasingly frightened. “Honestly, I think it is going to get worse before it gets better.”

Somerset said she is “pretty scared” herself in drawing comparison to the Second World War.

“I mean this is worse than wartime England,” she said.

“This reminds me of my childhood history books, when the Great Plague of London happened. The only thing that cleared it up is the Great Fire of London. We really don’t need a Great Fire now.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich council approves of a five-story multi-family development at 300 Gorge Road West and 2900 Tillicum Road. (Rendering via Alan Lowe Architect Inc.)
Saanich approves five-story, mixed-use development for Tillicum area

Plans include 53 residential units, three commercial units at Tillicum Road, Gorge Road West

Coun. Niall Paltiel of Central Saanich has filed a notice of motion directing staff to work with the WSANEC leadership council to develop a program leading toward the “gradual incorporation of traditional WSANEC names for key collector and arterial roads”(Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich councillor wants road signs to use WSANEC names

Coun. Niall Paltiel proposes ‘gradual incorporation of traditional WSANEC names’ for key roads

Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp said they are aware of hateful graffiti spray-painted in an area of the forest surrounding the campus. The graffiti in question includes anti-Semitic content and a racial slur towards Black people. (Facebook/Royal Roads University)
Anti-Semitic, hateful graffiti spotted in forest near Royal Roads University

Royal Roads working with West Shore RCMP to remove graffiti “as soon as possible”

A cougar was spotted at Royal Roads University on Sunday, Jan. 24. The sighting was reported on the western edge of the campus. (File photo)
Cougar spotted at Royal Roads University Sunday afternoon

Animal reported on western side of campus near Colwood Fire Department

Saanich-based St. Luke’s Players community theatre company has been making the most of their opportunities to keep busy during the pandemic, including staging a Christmastime panto of Alice in Wonderland on Zoom. (Courtesy St. Luke’s Players)
Saanich’s St. Luke’s Players: Bringing the stage to the people

Community theatre company holding online auditions Jan. 23-24 for March production

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

Most Read