Big Brothers Big Sisters facing unprecedented demand while revenues have dropped precipitously.
April 20 (TORONTO) – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada welcomed the commitment in the 2021 federal budget to provide $400 million to create a temporary Community Services Recovery Fund to help charities adapt and modernize to better support community recovery, calling it a critical investment in youth mental health and well-being, as well as an investment in Canada’s future prosperity.
Big Brothers Big Sisters had joined with BGC Canada, the National Association of Friendships Centres, United Way Centraide Canada, YMCA Canada and YWCA Canada in recommending a Community Services COVID-19 Relief Fund.
“The past 13 months have been the most challenging in the history of our organization, which has operated in Canada for over 100 years. The pandemic has resulted in a huge decline in revenue, while at the same time we are facing unprecedented demand to support youth struggling with the stress and anxiety of the pandemic. This funding is a critical lifeline and we are extremely grateful to the Federal Government for including it in the budget,” stated W. Matthew Chater, President and CEO.
“I would like to thank the Federal Government, Ministers Freeland and Hussen, and the MPs from all Parties who supported us over the past year in seeking to get the financial challenges facing the charitable sector addressed,” added Chater.
Big Brothers Big Sisters facilitates intentional mentoring relationships for 41,000 youth in 1,100 communities across Canada, with the support of over 21,000 volunteers. Children and youth engaged with the organization face toxic stress by living with adversities causes by systemic challenges like poverty, mental illness, neglect, addiction and a range of other sources – many of which have been made worse by the pandemic – while having only one or often zero developmental relationships.
“The pandemic has put an enormous mental health strain on youth, with calls and texts to the Kids Help Phone up 55% and 61%, respectively. Those youth are often referred to us, and when we have capacity, we can help. This investment lets us help more youth,” stated Chater.
Big Brothers Big Sisters just completed research with York University and the University of Victoria that found its mentoring has had an important impact through the pandemic:
- 42% of youth said their Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor helped them feel less isolated.
- 70% of youth who had regular contact with their mentor said it helped them feel less worried or anxious.
- 44% of youth engaged with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada reported feelings of depression, versus 51% among other youth.
- Likewise, 28% of youth engaged with Big Brothers Big Sisters reported feelings of anxiety, versus 40% among other youth.
“Mentoring works, and not just in the context of the pandemic. This is an investment in Canada’s future and building back better,” concluded Chater.
Research from the Boston Consulting Group has found a return of 23 to 1 for every dollar invested in Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring, with those who have benefited from it being more likely to be employed, earning more over the course of their career, being healthier mentally and physically, and more likely to give back to their communities later in life – in both dollars and time.