Watari During COVID-19:

Watari has been committed to remaining open to support vulnerable populations and families in need, while practicing physical distancing and following safety protocols. While physical distancing, we have continued to encourage and support social solidarity by way of wellness walks with foreign migrant workers and other people we support.
The Peer to Peer Support Program was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It united the community and partners to provide food, emotional support, activity kits for children, and daily translated news about COVID-19.
Since the health crisis began:

Food Hampers Delivered


Peers Got Involved


Food Boxes Delivered In Partnership With Khalsa Aid BC


Hot Meals Distributed In The Downtown Eastside


People Given Weekly COVID-19 Updates & Emotional Support


Children Provided With Age Appropriate COVID-19 Information

Watari COVID-19 Protocols:

Through the difficulties of these uncertain times, Watari remains committed to helping the people we support in safe and innovative ways using various online tools and through remote work options.

Unfortunately, we are not offering coffee or snacks at this time. But we are so happy and proud that we have been able to continue to provide food hampers to many families in need! Our staff is always working hard to keep everyone safe! That includes putting in place recommended safety guidelines such as social distancing, hand hygiene, use of masks, signage, and frequently cleaning shared spaces. Additionally, counsellors and support workers are meeting with people virtually as well as in person at Watari and outside in the community.

To ensure that Watari continues to be a safe space for everyone, we have had to implement some new protocols. These include:

  • The Elevator:  In light of the province starting to gradually re-open, the elevator is now unlocked all day. People no longer have to ring the door bell for entry. However, we still ask that only 2 people be in the elevator at one time, and only 3 people in the reception area.
  • Entry into Watari: Upon entry into Watari, everyone is required to wash their hands. While masks are no longer required by the health authority, they are still strongly recommended especially for those who have not received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. We ask that all visitors respect this and still wear a mask while in Watari, to protect themselves and everyone in the community. Staff are required to wear masks. All visitors must also sign-in at reception to ensure that we are able to contact everyone we need to for contact tracing.
  • Temperature Checks: As an extra precaution, temperature checks will be done at reception upon entry into Watari as well. 36-37 degrees is the average temperature of the human body; someone with a higher temperature may have a fever and will unfortunately not be permitted to enter.
  • COVID-19 Screening Questions: Additionally, upon entry into Watari everyone must answer the COVID-19 screening questions which include: are you currently experiencing any symptoms?, have you travelled anywhere in the past 14 days?, and, have you had contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case?. If “yes” is an answer to any of the questions, the individual will not be allowed to enter Watari. As well, all staff must complete a COVID-19 self-assessment before the start of each shift.
  • Capacity: There are notices posted in all shared spaces stating the maximum capacity allowed in each room. The meeting room is allowed a maximum capacity of 5 people, the board room is allowed 4 people, the kitchen is allowed 3, the elevator is allowed 2, and the reception area is allowed a maximum of 3 people at one time.
  • Physical Distancing: As per the safety recommendations, physical distancing is enforced throughout the building. Signage is posted everywhere to remind people to remain 2 metres (6 feet) apart. Signage is also posted on the ground and on tables marking where to stand to ensure the proper distance is followed. All chairs are placed the appropriate distance apart. Any extra ones are in storage or taped off so no one is able to use them.
  • Hand Sanitizers: Handwashing with soap is encouraged – and required when everyone first enters. There are signs saying to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. However, there are hand sanitizers available throughout the building. Everyone is encouraged to constantly sanitize as well.
  • Disinfectant: All areas are constantly being disinfected. There are disinfectant bottles stationed in all common areas, as well as signs telling everyone to disinfect the area when you are done. We ask that everyone disinfects the area before they begin working as well.
  • Stay Home If You’re Sick: If you are feeling unwell, please stay at home and let your manager know.

Thank You!

Without your support, we never could have done so much! But many community members need your help now more than ever!
Many members of the community are unable to prepare for self-isolation; people who reach out to Watari are already part of vulnerable communities, many of whom have compromised immune systems and/or lack the housing security to self-isolate. We have been able to continue our street level outreach, counselling services, and food security programs. However, COVID-19 has made it more challenging to do so.
One way the health crisis has challenged us is through our food security programs. These essential programs rely on donations of surplus stock from grocery stores. But with many people purchasing reserve stores for their homes, we no longer receive those donations our communities depend on.
We need your help to ensure we can safely continue these programs and supply the people in our communities with food and other essential items such as masks and hand sanitizers.
Please consider making a donation to Watari, to help us ensure at-risk children, youth, families, migrants, and refugees have something to eat in these days of uncertainty, and to ensure that our counsellors are able to continue providing mental health services to people experiencing increased levels of anxiety and fear.