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The London Pregnancy and Family Support Centre
Reaching Women and Families in Crisis During COVID-19

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By Kristine Abramoff

The London Pregnancy and Family Support Centre is a non-profit organization that has been supporting vulnerable women and families within the London area for almost 30 years. Lori Bethel, the executive director of the centre, says that the majority of the clients are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy, and are struggling to decide how to handle this life-changing event. They come to the centre, where they can access free pregnancy tests, options counselling, pre-natal classes, practical support, professional counselling, and post-abortion grief support. The centre also does referrals to other services so that clients can access medical care, housing, community services, mental health services, and counselling. All services are 100% free, which means that even the most vulnerable in the community can access the support they need when experiencing an unexpected pregnancy.

One big focus of the centre is providing education. The centre offers information on options that clients know about but often do not understand well: the challenges and rewards of parenting, the continued connection they could have with the child through an open adoption, and the realities of abortion. Previous clients can volunteer to connect with clients to share insight on how their decision about an unexpected pregnancy impacted them, which is a valuable resource for those who are making their decisions for the future. The London Pregnancy and Family Support Centre welcomes anyone who comes through the door, no matter what their story is, and focuses on empowering clients in completely non-judgmental ways. Lori says that “compassionately, we want to stand with them.”

However, the COVID-19 crisis has posed some unique challenges to the centre’s operations. Lori says that a massive challenge is not being able to meet in person with clients. Though staff can still connect with clients over Zoom, FaceTime, email, phone, or text, it is not the same as providing face-to-face support. Clients who already feel alone and afraid due to an unexpected pregnancy struggle with the additional isolation that COVID has added, and often would benefit from in-person discussions. Lori emphasizes how important this face-to-face support is, and how difficult it is to not be in the same room with someone who needs support to offer a hug or just an understanding and supportive presence. A virtual connection cannot give what that physical connection can. Lori says that even though she knows the Lord is in control, it has been a challenging time because the COVID situation has exacerbated the isolation and powerlessness people feel when they are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy.

It can often be hard to reach people through virtual methods as well. Unfortunately, often the highest risk people are also the hardest to reach virtually even though they need the most support. Lori says that the additional pressures that COVID has put on vulnerable moms and families are overwhelming. Whereas before clients could visit the centre, COVID means that they face struggles without in-person support. One big challenge for many moms is being isolated while also having to provide all food and schooling for their children. Without support from school programs, moms struggle to not only balance teaching their kids, but also struggle to provide every meal to kids who usually would access their school breakfast and lunch programs.

The centre works to provide support to clients who are struggling with schooling and feeding their kids, but it is not easy during this crisis. The centre is currently supporting about 90 families throughout COVID, and more are continuing to call each day for support. Staff are working hard to deliver formula, diapers, and groceries to families who cannot get them.

With the shift towards reopening, Lori says that the centre is considering what it will look like for clients to come in to physically access the centre, and how the centre will ensure the safety of staff and clients through masks, protective gear, and sanitization. While providing in person support again is something the centre is looking forward to doing, it will be a challenge to balance providing top quality support while also ensuring the safety of the community.

The centre’s annual fundraiser was cancelled due to COVID-19

Another significant challenge is that the centre’s annual fundraiser, which had been scheduled in the spring, had to be postponed due to the COVID pandemic. With 350-400 attendees, this is the biggest fundraiser that the centre has, and it brings in the bulk of the money the centre needs to continue reaching some of the most vulnerable people in London. The fundraiser has been postponed until September, but there is no way of knowing if it will happen then due to the uncertainty of the COVID situation. The centre has also struggled with its usual fundraisers. The baby bottle fundraiser, in which people fill a baby bottle with a cheque or change, has gone virtual. While pastors still promote it, Lori says that having a staff member come into the church to talk about the centre’s work and what God is doing through the centre is vital to helping people understand and connect with the centre’s mission. The virtual fundraiser does not give the same experience, and it is much harder to share the message or raise interest.

However, Lori has faith that God will provide so that the centre can continue its work of educating and supporting families in need and continuing the positive work that is being done in the community. She says that the centre’s community is a tight-knit family, and she knows that everyone will continue to do their best to support each other throughout this crisis and as the centre reopens.

If you would like to support the London Pregnancy and Family Support Centre, there are a variety of ways to give. Partnering with the centre through monetary support ensures that the centre can continue to reach those going through times of crisis. Also, by giving small gift cards to places like No Frills, Food Basics, Walmart, Dollarama, or McDonalds, you can help a mom afford good food for her children, take a break from cooking, or buy the supplies she needs to keep her kids learning at home. You can also support moms in the community through donations of diapers (newborn and sizes 5 and 6), and formula like Good Start. More information about how you can give to support the centre can be found at

Thank you for considering making a donation to help vulnerable moms and kids find hope as they struggle through this stressful time.
London Pregnancy & Family Support Centre
261 Piccadilly St
London, ON N6A 1S3
Business: 519-432-7098
Fax Line: 519-432-7030
Crisis Line: 1-800-665-0570