United Way Greater Victoria (UWGV) is launching its new Blue Love Campaign to provide more services for Vancouver Islanders seeking mental health support as we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. With an extraordinary lead gift of $100K from Peninsula Co-op, UWGV is pleased to announce that Co-op will match every dollar raised up to the $100K level, helping to ensure an incredible start.

The name of UWGV’s “Blue Love” Campaign comes from the idea that not everyone’s heart is red. Often hearts are black and blue from years of trauma or from an event or events that can change a person’s life. A global pandemic is a shared, world-wide trauma – and one that has turned many hearts blue.

The Blue Love Campaign aims to raise $1 Million for counselling, peer support and outreach services by the end of 2021 through corporate gifts, interest from many in the general public, and through loyal United Way donors (both in partner workplaces and individual giving). To make a donation to the Blue Love Campaign, please visit: uwgv.ca/bluelovecampaign

“Having Peninsula Co-op stand with us to ensure more services are available for individuals struggling with mental health means the world to us. We are elated to have such a well-respected and community-minded business partnering with us. It is our hope this generosity will inspire many to give,” said Mark Breslauer, CEO at UWGV. “We expect this campaign will allow our valued frontline agencies to help blue hearts turn red by individuals knowing they aren’t alone anymore.”

Being a supporter and funder of mental health agencies for years, United Way knows the sector was stretched before COVID-19. Now the demand for services has increased, some by as much as 50 percent, and will continue to grow as the community moves to recover from the pandemic. The Blue Love Campaign will help alleviate the demand for counselling, outreach and peer support services and reduce stressed and overworked frontline agencies.

“So many of our family, friends and neighbours are struggling with their mental health and they’re often not able to get the support they so desperately need. We hope that our community will be inspired to rally alongside us to provide more resources so we can help heal hearts and minds,” said Lindsay Gaudette, Director of Marketing and Community Relations at Peninsula Co-op.

With this additional $1 Million, the mental health charitable sector could hire up to 15 outreach/peer support workers or counsellors to provide aid to approximately 9,000 to 15,000 adults, families, children or youth facing mental health challenges.

Funds raised from the campaign will benefit Blue Love community partners such as Connections Place, Family Services of Greater Victoria, Hulitan Family Services, Greater Victoria Citizens’ Counselling Centre, Mental Health Recovery Partners, NEED2 Suicide Prevention, Education &

Support, Pacific Centre Family Services, South Island Centre for Counselling & Training, Sooke Family Resource Society and Vancouver Island Men’s Therapy Centre.

“We are thrilled to be part of United Way’s Blue Love Campaign for Mental Health. An investment in Connections Place would enable us to expand our programming to include much needed evening and weekend services and hire peer support and outreach staff to work with existing and new members in our community. Being open and accessible as much as possible is key to ‘disrupting isolation by staying connected’ while providing our members with the opportunity to develop a strong circle of support and creating wellness in their lives,” said Chris Forester, Executive Director of Connections Place.

As the Blue Love Campaign unfolds into the community, UWGV is excited to share that Country Grocer during April will be turning their stores ‘blue’ through a point-of-purchase till campaign in support of Blue Love. Patrons will have the opportunity to purchase a blue heart for $2 that will go towards funding the Blue Love Campaign.