Supporting Edmontonians with Crohn’s Disease and Colitis During COVID-19

ECF grant allows local chapter of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada to support members virtually

When the pandemic hit, people living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease or colitis, were understandably worried.

“Those who are immunocompromised, whether from their illness or medication, were told to take extra precautions, in terms of social distancing,” said Anna, current President of the Edmonton Chapter of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. The chapter’s members had many questions about how the pandemic would affect them — from their susceptibility to the novel coronavirus to how telehealth appointments would work.

It was clear the IBD community needed additional support, but the conditions imposed by COVID-19 made this difficult, says Anna. The need for social distancing meant the Edmonton Chapter could no longer host in-person meetings, fundraising events or reach out to members and the broader community.

Thankfully, a $1,500 grant from Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF), via the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF), helped the chapter move its community outreach online.

“Sometimes, all that an agency needs is a very small amount to make a difference for their clients,” Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Engagement said.

Virtual meetings via Zoom allowed the chapter to continue sharing information and resources with members during this difficult time.

“It’s been imperative in keeping us connected and we hope the social media ads will increase awareness,” Anna said. “This is an invisible illness and many suffer in silence. Thankfully, that seems to be changing due to a tremendous amount of advocacy led in part by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.”

Susan Hampton, Leadership Giving Officer with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, says the funding not only paid for a Zoom account for the Edmonton Chapter, but also training for volunteers in running meetings, plus social media ads to help the chapter build its membership base.

“Crohn’s disease and colitis don’t go away. People are still struggling with their disease and those recently diagnosed have questions,” she said. “It’s important we’re able to continue to provide a network of support for people in Edmonton living with IBD and, with the grant, we’re able to do that.”