The United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island (UWCNVI) and the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy have funded two warming centres to open in the city of Nanaimo between January 18 and March 31.

Warming centres provide a vital respite from cold weather for people experiencing homelessness this winter. Offering a warm space to come indoors, with hot drinks and snacks, warming centres are open from 10am to 4pm at the following locations:

489 Wallace – operated by the Society for Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy, open Monday to Saturday

285 Prideaux – operated by 7-10 Club, open seven days a week

These warming centres are urgently needed as more than 430 people in Nanaimo are living unsheltered according to the March 2020 Point in Time count.

Approximately $110,000 in funding was granted through United Way and the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home Strategy. The funds were directed by the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition for the operational costs associated with running the two warming centres.

What is Helpseeker?

HelpSeeker is an app that connects people in need with local services that can help.

HelpSeeker is more than an app that supports people in need; it also collects real-time data that can help Nanaimo service providers make decisions and build a stronger case for more funding.

If you’re a charity, non-profit or government organization that helps Nanaimo residents, we need you to claim your spot and register your organization on HelpSeeker.

Your organization has been included in the HelpSeeker systems map; now we need you to register and ensure that your information is kept accurate and up to date

Register right now at

Register today and support the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition’s work

By registering with HelpSeeker, you’re helping the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition in its work to end homelessness.  Our aim is to bring together local organizations to leverage existing funding and to coordinate services to make a visible change for the Nanaimo community.

With the information you provide, HelpSeeker will map all of the services available in Nanaimo so we can help vulnerable resident more quickly and efficiently. Having a system map of service providers will help us understand gaps and duplications so we can streamline services and make a stronger case for more funding. We’ll be able to better plan for the future of Nanaimo and be more agile in our response during crisis situations, like COVID-19.

Our initiative with HelpSeeker is part of our work through the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home Strategy to develop a centralized Coordinated Access System in Nanaimo. The data collected through HelpSeeker is key to creating a system map of Nanaimo’s service providers and to developing Nanaimo’s Coordinated Access System. Learn more about Nanaimo’s Coordinated Access System.

Status of Nanaimo Homeless Coalition Member Service Agencies during COVID-19 as of March 25, 2020

UNITED WAY CENTRAL & NORTHERN VANCOUVER ISLAND – Nicole Benson Communications Director

  • Our staff are busy working hard to help our communities. We are mobilizing our resources to best serve our communities and help to keep our neighbours safe and healthy. To stay engaged with our work follow our updates on Facebook, visit our website and sign up for our e-news.
  • Most staff are working remotely and can be reached by email during regular office hours. Our office line will be monitored and answered 250.591.8731.
  • All UWCNVI events, meetings and site visits are cancelled or postponed. We will host as many of these events through teleconference as possible.
  • We are working closely with United Way Canada and other United Ways in BC to talk to federal and provincial funders to see if more resources can be made available for our hard-working agencies in our region.


Throughout NARSF Facilities

  • Increase sanitization, notices and precautions

Child/Family and Adult Programs (EDP, DVRP, LIFT, SAIP)

  • Social distancing measures in place (minimum 2 meters)
  • Telephone appointments where possible
  • Office open, clients asked to stay home where ill

Outreach Programs (MHO, YSP)

  • TranSportation of youth in hiatus
  • Appointments in the community where possible

Transitions (Youth withdrawal and supportive residential)

  • Operating, no new additions to group until further notice

Harris House and Mobile Health Outreach, CVIHRS

  • Until Friday, individual drop for harm reductions at Harris House
  • Social distancing measures in place for Mobile Health Outreach
  • POC/STI testing, showers suspended until further notice

Linked to Treatment

  • Social distancing measures in place
  • Supporting alternative arrangements for transportation
  • Community appointments where possible.


All staff that can work from home are doing so. Those staff that are working in any public sphere are doing so whilst keeping in mind social distance, and in larger spaces where they are working and ensuring appropriate use of cleaners, gloves etc. Everyone is available by phone, email or text to stay in communication with each other.

  • Offices for tenant interface have been closed and any urgent matters re tenants, are to call our emergency line that is managed by Telelink.
  • Housekeeping staff are staying out of personal suites and spaces and focusing on high touch locations on all our 17 sites including common spaces etc.
  • Maintenance staff are working on emergencies only if the matter is in a tenant’s personal space. Each matter is dealt with on a case by case basis. Their focus has been shifted to projects, getting suites ready for turnover, etc.
  • Kitchen has been closed at our Buttertubs site with meals being delivered to suites. The kitchen staff is also working to prepare and freeze as many meals as possible in the event the kitchen becomes closed due to staff illness etc.
  • We are working to keep ongoing communication and updates for tenants, posting on a regular basis in all common areas of all buildings including laundry rooms, elevators, lobbies.
  • For direct information on general operational matters, contact me at For tenant matters our Manager of Tenant Relations is

HAVEN SOCIETY – Dawn Clark, Program Director

Haven society  is instituting the following measures:

  • We have suspended all groups until further notice
  • Program staff will continue to provide altered services during regular business hours.
  • Outreach Services will ensure that clients who need housing supports receive them in a timely manner.
  • Program staff in all programs are reducing  in-person appointments and offering telephone appointments for clients and phone consultations for call –ins
  • In order to ensure the well-being of our residents and staff at our Transition House in Nanaimo we have temporarily suspended intakes until further notice
  • Our 24-hour crisis line is in operation and will continue to provide telephone support

PACIFICA – Maggie Hertzberg, Manager of Supportive Housing

  • Several staff working from home if they are able to.
  • Our frontline staff are continuing to work on-site at our Supportive Housing buildings. However, our Mobile Outreach workers are no longer transporting our tenants for appointments and other outreach unless absolutely necessary. Our tenants could use transportation/outreach supports for this reason.
  • Our Uplands Walk supportive housing is currently closed to guests and while not a drop-in centre, we typically do have a fair number of homeless folks staying in the North end visiting our tenants for food, somewhere to stay etc., so there could be some increased homeless outreach need up there as our doors are closed.


The steps we have taken at Nanaimo Hospice are as follows:

  • The Hospice shop is closed until further notice.
  • We have cancelled all group programs at hospice house until further notice
  • We have cancelled all in-person counselling. Counsellors will contact their clients to provide over the phone counselling support.
  • As per the Health Authority directive, all PCU volunteers are required to suspend their involvement at the PCU effective immediately.

SCHOOL DISTRICT 68 – Bernadette French, Community Schools Coordinator

  • K-12 schools in BC suspended indefinitely·
  • All spring break programming has been cancelled
  • We have been directed to work from home
  • New cleaning crews have been added
  • Hand sanitizing stations being put into every school
  • Renter and user groups in schools cancelled


  • We continue to be open 5:30pm – 7:00am
  • We expect to reduce our capacity from 30 to 28, to accommodate a measure of social distancing and allow a buffer between guests displaying flu or COVID-19 symptoms – pending BCH approval
  • Visits by volunteers, contractors, tours, suppliers and other visitors are suspended until further notice. Only staff, guests, VIHA staff or RCMP will be welcome on site.
  • We have enhanced sanitization and hygiene activities and will provide hygiene and social-distancing information to our guests at every opportunity. We have acquired supplies to make our own hand sanitizers for our own use and to distribute to guests.
  • We continue to offer free showers at Caledonia Park on behalf of the City of Nanaimo… monitoring for potential for change in service.


Nanaimo Family Life supports social distancing. Our immediate protocol is:

  • We are offering the option of telephone counselling
  • Our staff are working from home
  • Our office hours are reduced to 9:00am – Noon.
  • We are continuing to serve all seniors CURRENTLY enrolled in programs through NFLA who require grocery shopping, prescription pickup, transportation to medical appts.
  • We are cancelling all our Workshops for Healthy Relationships
  • Senior social/health and wellness programs are cancelled
  • Although our office hours are reduced, staff are available during regular hours via email and phone (9 – 4 pm).

SEIA – Chantale Roelens, ED

  • SEIA is offering supports via telephone
  • Out doors are closed to the public at our Prideaux location
  • St Peters Shelter, will remain open, unless things change and we asked to close our doors. 
  • We are practicing the suggestions set forth by BC housing and the health authority that all shelter operators were provided with.


Suspended until further notice:

  • In-person client services (Support is offered by phone or video conference)
  • Client Coffee Groups at NBIS and at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital
  • Volunteer activities and meetings
  • NBIS community events and workshops
  • NBIS staff are available during our regular business hours, Monday to Thursday, 9:00am – 4:00pm by phone or email
  • NBIS staff are working from home starting Wed. March 18

7-10 CLUB – Gord Fuller, Society Chair

  • The Nanaimo 7-10 Club has scaled back its service to offer a bag lunch and take away coffee; no sit-down breakfast or InSite socializing.
  • As long as we have 3-4 folk willing to continue doing so we will keep on keeping on. Have actually gotten a few new volunteers willing.

THE MEN’S CENTER – Theo Boere, Community Education Coordinator

With an overabundance of caution, and in concern for our clients, staff, and volunteers, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily close the Men’s Centre to the general public as of Tuesday, March 17.  We hope you will understand and support our decision. It is not one we have taken lightly, as we know our clients depend on our services; however, we want to err on the side of caution to do our part to help keep the community safe for everyone. We are thinking of the bigger picture in terms of flattening the curve so that our health care systems don’t get overwhelmed by a wave which we expect will inevitably strike very soon. We are fortunate in being able to see how this corona tidal wave has hit other countries and can take preventative measures.

  • It is our intention to continue to answer the telephone during our regular working hours, and provide assistance and counselling and referrals to those who need it, over the phone, via email, and through audio video consultations.
  • Currently, our meeting groups have either gone online or have suspended meetings temporarily. We will continue with programs as we can and we will assess each program for how best to proceed.
  • We will be monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will be poised to re-open the Centre to the general public as soon as provincial and federal health authorities recommend it to be appropriate.


Nanaimo Youth Services Association has implemented the following protocols effective today:

  • NYSA launched a “Youth Support Coach” contact service during the COVID-19 crisis. For youth who have questions about COVID-19 or enquiries about how to keep both themselves and the ones they care for safe, NYSA has opened a dedicated online messenger, phone line and e-mail service to support youth.
  • A NYSA “Youth Support Coach” can be contacted via: or or  250.754.1944.
  • The messenger service will be staffed 24-hours per day and the e-mail/phone line service staffed during business hours.​​​​​​​
  • NYSA has also launched a “YouTuber” video on “COVID-19 and Youth”, as a way to help youth to be guided on wellness behaviours during the pandemic.  This YouTuber can be accessed at:

NYSA Central and NYSA Comox Valley offices:

  • To follow government guidance on “social distancing”, our two main offices will be open for business while closed to public access. Youth can contact NYSA for supports via telephone or Internet

BladeRunner classes:

  • The current BR training in Nanaimo will be ended two-days early, on next week Wednesday, March 25, 2020, and the next BR intakes for both Nanaimo and Comox Valley will have slightly later start dates.

Employment Keep It:

  • With a number of trainers having cancelled their trainings of this week and over 70% of participants in Nanaimo away today with sickness or other matters, EKI is filling-in-the-blanks with substitute trainers or trainings toward the goal of completing the EKI trainings in Comox Valley and Nanaimo by their existing completion date of this coming Friday. Later “work experience trainings” will be scheduled as/if appropriate as determined by each EKI location.

NYSA Youth Housing:

  • Immediately implementing enhanced cleaning protocols, which include enhanced cleaning of hallways and washrooms and communal table/surface tops, and ensuring easy access by residents to hand-sanitizer. Reminders will be displayed in each complex to remind residents to practice “social distancing” as a safety measure during the pandemic and for residents to be required to immediately report any unusual coughs/fever to Housing staff.

Supportive Living Program:

  • Will offer supports to youth with minimal physical contact and primarily via telephone or Internet during the pandemic. SLP Youth will be fully supported at this time using “social distancing” techniques and protocols. Food supports, if provided, will be dropped off at a client’s door. The details on the actualization of this approach would be specifically determined by NYSA’s SLP team.

SALVATION ARMY – Major Yvonne Borrows

This situation is very fluid so changes happen very quickly. At present we are doing our best stay open and available for assistance to our most venerable populations.

  • Community Ministries is open from 9 am to 1 pm, Monday through Friday at 19 Nicol Street.
  • The Shelter is open but not taking new guests.
  • We are still providing two meals a day, lunch is by bag lunch at the New Hope entrance.
  • Dinner will have extended time, 3:30pm to 5:30pm but only 25 guest at a time.
  • The shower and laundry programs are closed.
  • We have dropped from 30 to 24 beds in the shelter, allowing us to create a sick room.
  • All group programs at the church, New Hope Centre and Bowen Rd Office have been cancelled.
  • As of this afternoon all three thrift stores are closed, there will be staff available to take in donations.
  • For those areas that are still open, we are taking measures to ensure extra cleaning and sanitation happens and staff who can work from home are encouraged to do so.


The Housing Team at the Nanaimo Region John Howard Society have identified and are implementing the following:

  • Housing Staff will be working from home after Wednesday the 16th. We will be available both by email and cell during our regular operating hours (8:30am-4:00pm). We will still be able to access our voicemail from the office lines.
  • We will be suspending in-person meetings such as vulnerability assessments.
  • Housing staff will be reducing our in-person case management with existing participants to telephone contact. We will continue to support existing participants who do not show symptoms in getting basic needs met, such as grocery shopping, prescriptions, or medical appointments.
  • We have increased our sanitizing kits for prevention in our outreach vehicles when transporting participants.
  • For more info on our Housing Team’s activities, contact Andrew Ferguson, Housing Manager, Nanaimo Region John Howard Society,              250-668-6300 or


  • We are still operating our sites as they are 24 staff operated, however, we are not allowing guests or visitors to our Boundary Supportive Housing or our Gateway/SIL programs.

VANCOUVER ISLAND HEALTH AUTHORITY – Karly Fennell, Clinic Coordinator

As others have mentioned, decisions are changing rapidly so all I can say is where we are at in the moment:

Nanaimo Mental Health and Substance Use teams continue on status quo with some alterations to how we provide care. Those include:

  • Supporting clients over the phone when it is an option
  • Non-essential group cancellations
  • Engaging in social distancing during outreach work
  • Visitor restrictions to facilities


Due to the serious and growing concern of COVID-19, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Mid-Island Branch is modifying many of its programs and services to help mitigate any potential spread of infection in our community. First and foremost, our goal is to protect the health of staff and participants while still supporting social connections.

It’s essential to remain a strong community and rethink how we can offer support to ensure the health and well-being of our participants, staff, volunteers and supporters. Everything we stand for is about connecting people to the community. The circumstances we are facing will not stop us from doing that, but it will change the way we do things for now. Based on the latest information received from the BC Ministry of Health and Government of Canada, CMHA Mid-Island is taking the following steps to continue its most critical programs, effective immediately until further notice:

As of March 18, 2020

Social Centre:

  • The Social Centre will close indefinitely as of Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
  • We are exploring other means of staying connected to participants through this time.

Peppermill (Courtenay)

  • Closed until further notice

Employment Support

  • All employment support services will be delivered by telephone or online means.


  • Housing support remains unchanged at this time.
  • We are discouraging visitors unless they are providing assistance and are asking health screen questions before entering.
  • Focus on supporting those with underlying health challenges who have chosen to self-isolate.

Overdose Prevention

  • Site hours and service remain unchanged – 7 days a week 10:30 am – Midnight
  • Limiting the number of clients in the space to those who are using substances or being observed post use.

Homelessness Outreach

  • Service hours remain unchanged. Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 5 pm.
  • We are limiting transport where possible.
  • We will continue to visit encampments and support people to have their basic needs met.

We intend to operate Housing, Overdose Prevention and Homelessness Outreach throughout. We will communicate any modifications or changes as the scenario progresses.

We are also asking for everyone who can to reach out and connect with a few people they know but haven’t spoken with, particularly those who live alone, or have health conditions. There is no risk in phone calls, emails or texts… and we need to keep our community connected.


  • Samaritan House (including Mary and Martha’s Place), Safe Harbour and the Bridge, Newcastle Place, Crescent House, Orca Place, and Hirst House are essential services and will not close.
  • No unnecessary visits allowed. Necessary visits include visits from Island Health employees, inspectors and other government representatives (i.e. BC Housing officials), security personnel, First Responders, and others. Delivery drivers and volunteers may not need to visit, and alternative delivery arrangements may be considered. 2. Visitors to a site will be informed of the protocol and asked to visit at a later date if the purpose of the visit is not on the approved list.   3. Visits from family and friends are not approved at this time.   4. Program manages will adjust the list as circumstances worsen or improve.

ALZHEIMER SOCIETY OF B.C. – North and Central Vancouver Island

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is continually monitoring the situation in order to plan our response. 

  • We are suspending the Society’s in-person activities for the next while – this includes Minds in Motion®, support groups and other education.
  • We will be increasing our phone outreach via our First Link® support calls and have extended the hours of our First Link® Dementia Helpline which, effective immediately and permanently, will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. to provide evening service in English. Our Mandarin, Cantonese and Punjabi support will continue to be available between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please don’t hesitate to call us:
  • English: 1-800-936-6033
  • Cantonese and Mandarin: 1-833-674-5007
  • Punjabi: 1-833-674-5003

We will also be offering webinars and providing information about dementia through our webinars (