Brazil & Portugal  


Abrigo’s Intake Program: Transition in Response to the Pandemic

Improvement of Service for Clients


By Erika Pascoal and Rosana de Rezende, Intake Counsellors | October 21, 2022

The Abrigo Centre has been an integral part of the Portuguese-language community in Toronto for more than 32 years. As a non-profit community agency, we endeavor to continually adapt and be responsive to the social service needs of individuals and families in our community.

 A special presentation about the transition of the “Intake Program to a better service” at Abrigo’s Annual Meeting – Photo by Leila Monteiro Lins

The Front Door to all Abrigo Programs & Services

For most, the Intake Program is the first point of contact for clients who are new to Abrigo and as Intake Counsellors we have the privilege of helping new clients get to know our services and help connect them to their goals and objectives.

Since the start of the pandemic, we as Abrigo staff members were challenged as was the community we serve, with how to safely and responsibly respond to increased community needs in a timely way. We witnessed the changes in our clients’ lives with the increased economic insecurity, increased isolation, and the substantial slow down and challenges in accessing government and non-profit services.

As an agency, we saw an increase in domestic violence and mental health crisis calls as individuals and families found themselves more isolated and living with the tensions of coping with the pandemic, home schooling and sometimes job loss. We saw an increase in clients who found themselves unemployed or underemployed requesting additional services to support their financial insecurity.

Intake Service Redesigned

In our commitment to responding to client needs, we asked ourselves “How can we respond to the increase in client needs in a timely, effective and safe manner with the use of our current resources?”

This resulted in the redesign of what is now our current Intake system in which we respond to between 30 to 50 new client service requests on a daily basis. We contact clients based on a level of urgency, prioritizing matters such as those in situations of gender-based violence, abuse and those in need of food or shelter.

We offer crisis support, safety planning, advocacy, information and resources. We link clients to needed services both within our agency and also with other service providers. One positive outgrowth of the pandemic is that we now offer all of these services in person, over the telephone or virtually.

Doors are Opened to Walk-in Clients

For a significant time period, our agency was open and full functioning but operating virtually to keep our clients, volunteers and other staff members safe from the COVID-19 virus. Over the last year groups like our seniors’ program have returned to limited in-person sessions and Abrigo counsellors have been seeing clients on a by appointment only basis. Just recently, we opened our doors to walk-in clients Monday through Thursday. This transition to pre-pandemic life has been a long journey but a welcome one for all.

We take pride in serving our community and we would like to say thank you for your continued trust and support in Abrigo and the work we do on a daily basis.

As the Intake Counsellors at the Abrigo Centre, we are proud to be part of an agency that has served the Portuguese-language communities in the City of Toronto and Greater Toronto Area for over 32 years. We look forward to making a difference for our clients for many more.

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Erika Pascoal & Rosana Rezende

Erika Pascoal (left) and Rosana Rezende are Intake Counsellors at the Abrigo Centre. They conduct comprehensive assessments to triage and help new clients find the appropriate programs and services at the agency or through external resources.

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