Pandemic isolation in rural areas target for Women's Network P.E.I. program

'It’s nice to be able to give folks a chance to get back together,' says project co-ordinator Rachel Adams. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)
'It’s nice to be able to give folks a chance to get back together,' says project co-ordinator Rachel Adams. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)

A new initiative from Women's Network P.E.I. is aiming to connect women and gender-diverse Islanders living in rural areas.

A recent survey by the group found that the feeling of isolation is an issue, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is looking to address that problem with a program called In Reach.

A lot of the Women's Network P.E.I. programming has been based in Charlottetown, said In Reach co-ordinator Rachel Adams.

"They couldn't participate in those things unless they were able to travel to Charlottetown, so we wanted to address those barriers," said Adams.

"A lot of those people I've heard from are saying they haven't been to anything like this since COVID.… It's nice to be able to give folks a chance to get back together in person again."

Starting next month, In Reach will sponsor four three-hour sessions in three different locations around the Island. The program is currently recruiting participants for sessions in Breadalbane, Little Pond and Mill River through the Women's Network P.E.I. website.

Rural P.E.I. still growing

The goal is to get people together to share experiences and information, and develop networks for resources and skills.

"We're really just hoping to hear what these folks want, and to kind of build a plan moving forward that will work best for what the people in rural communities actually need, and not just what we think they need," said Adams.

The program for support in rural areas is particularly relevant for P.E.I. While the census shows that Canadians are mostly retreating from rural areas, on P.E.I. growth in rural and urban areas is roughly equal.

Registration is required for the sessions, and you can sign up on the Women's Network P.E.I. website (see external link below.) Subsidies to cover travel and care expenses for children or seniors are available.