(Photo: Metro Creative Graphics)

Surrey seniors call Seniors’ Centre Without Walls, a new-to-B.C. program

‘Crazy coincidence’ saw program connect soon after COVID-19 pandemic hit

Surrey and White Rock seniors are dialing up a unique new program considered the first of its kind in B.C.

It’s called Seniors’ Centre Without Walls, a free, telephone-based exchange that allows seniors to connect with others from the comfort of their own home, for a variety of audio events including radio plays, fitness sessions, group chats, music trivia, gardening, cooking and more.

Launched in mid-April, the program sounds like something designed for these pandemic, physically-distanced times, but it was actually in the planning stages last fall, months before COVID-19 hit this province in a significant way.

Program co-ordinator Edwin Chau says Surrey’s Seniors’ Centre Without Walls, or SCWW, is the first of its kind in B.C., to his knowledge.

“The West End Seniors Network did try to pilot an initiative like this back in 2018, I believe, but that one ended up transitioning into more of a telephone support group. Ours is different.

Chau began working on the Surrey program in January.

“This program was going to happen whether COVID came up or not, it just so happens that launch date lined up with when the (pandemic) happened. It was a crazy coincidence, not actually planned.”

The Seniors’ Centre Without Walls is free to seniors aged 55-plus in Surrey and White Rock. Most of the programs are in English, but some aren’t, including a “Japanese News Channel” session every Tuesday at 1 p.m.

The June/July calendar also features dial-up gatherings such as “Stories From the Past,” “Learning Mindfulness,” “Tall Telephone Tales” and “Literature Club.”

“The radio play we did last Friday was very successful,” Chau explained. “The participants liked that one, so I’m going to work with Peninsula Productions to do another program like that in probably August or September. But the most popular program so far has probably been one called ‘You Be the Judge of That,’ which I run every Thursday afternoon – the one about real court cases. It’s based on a book series.”

The sessions are done by phone using the UberConference system. The program schedule is found online at comeshare.ca; it can also be emailed (from scww@comeshare.ca) or snail-mailed.

“On the day of the programs you have registered for, you will receive a phone call from the program to join the conference call,” says a post on the website. “Just dial ‘1’ when prompted and you’re in! Its as easy as that. No need to remember multiple phone numbers or access codes!”

To register, the phone number to call is 604-531-9400, extension 205.

“We want to keep it simple, keep it very accessible for seniors who want to participate,” Chau said. “And while putting this program together, I’ve realized that we kind of underestimate the number of seniors who are using technology and are computer literate,” he added. “I feel like the vast majority of seniors in the program do use things like email and are doing Zoom meetings and stuff, but this program is about not having to use that kind of technology. These participants pick up the phone, dial a few numbers and that’s it.”

With funding from the federal New Horizons for Seniors program, the Seniors’ Centre Without Walls is brought to Surrey by the Surrey Intercultural Seniors Social Inclusion Partnership (SISSIP) Network, which involves six local organizations – Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS), City of Surrey, Seniors Come Share Society, SOURCES, Semiahmoo House Society and Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association (FRAFCA).

Chau, a Fleetwood-area resident who works out of the Seniors Come Share Society office in South Surrey, said he based Surrey’s SCWW on similar programs in Ontario and Manitoba.

He said the original plan was to launch the program in a much smaller way, with three call-in sessions per week, but it all took off during the pandemic.

“We want to build it gradually over time,” Chau noted. “It is set to be a multi-year project, but then the remote model of this project just fit the bill, it was perfect, and we ended up ramping it all the way up to two or even three programs a day, every single day of the week.”

Elsewhere in Canada, Chau said participation in similar programs is between six to 12 seniors per session, on average.

“We’re averaging around eight to 10 seniors, which is great, and right now our numbers are around 50 unique active participants, in about a month of half since our launch, and we’re still spreading the word about the program.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Seniors

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

BREAKING: Cloverdale McDonald’s employee tests positive for COVID-19

McDonald’s Canada immediately shut down the restaurant

Southridge students raise $5,600 for hospital meal program

GoFundMe campaign funds two months of meals at Peace Arch Hospital

Surrey kids get cooking during free SuperChefs camps pushed online by pandemic

‘Enthusiastic’ launch of program, which sees ingredient pickup at one local school

Court awards woman $143K for two Whalley rear-ender crashes, one by a bus

In both cases, Brigitte Bergeron’s vehicle was hit from behind while stopped at an intersection

Surrey RCMP searching for missing woman last seen in Crescent Beach

Milcah Kasomali-Chirumbwana last seen at 4:35 p.m. July 5 in the 12300-block of Beecher Street

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine? Poll suggests most Canadians say yes

75 per cent of Canadians would agree to take a novel coronavirus vaccine

Abbotsford school vice-principal accused of getting Instagram ‘confessions’ page shut down

@A.S.S.S.Confessions page claims school officials contacted families to find out person behind page

Recreational chinook openings leave First Nations frustrated on the Lower Fraser

Limited recreational openings for chinook on the Chehalis and Chilliwack rivers being questioned

Most Read

l -->