Y’s Men International Statement on COVID-19

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Y’s Men International Statement on COVID-19

Y’s Men International Expresses Concerns Over Elderly, Poor and Marginalised in the Context of COVID-19

Y’s Men International is uniting volunteers for social change in 1,500 communities across 70 countries. For over 98 years, our clubs have been engaging their members to lead a life filled with happiness through friendship, fellowship and service to the community in need. As a worldwide movement, we are leveraging the strength of our combined networks of 26,000 families to provide comfort and hope to those feeling the effects of isolation and fear amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We are focusing our collective skills, resources and moral strength to support frontline health workers and first responders as they battle this disease and save lives. We are also extending our helping hand to the poor and marginalised whose lives have been affected due to the shutdown of business activities and enforcement of safety measures to combat COVID-19. We are in solidarity with YMCA, our principal partner organisation, in their efforts to build organisational resilience and their commitment to the mission of empowering young people.

Y’s Men International is a volunteer-driven intergenerational association and the large numbers of club members are active senior citizens. While we remain committed, through strong unity, to meeting the challenge of finding innovative ways to take action to help communities around the globe to heal and thrive, our membership has raised concerns over social activity and volunteerism in the realm of COVID-19. How do we continue to uphold the motto of the organisation and ‘acknowledge the duty that accompanies every right’?

Y’s Men International urges world leaders to find ways:

  1. To reduce the impact of the digital divide: The internet and other digital technologies have become a window to the world during the lockdown, enabling us to connect with family, friends and the community. While about one-half of the world’s population has internet access, the other half remains offline and disconnected, not just from opportunity to link with others during the pandemic but also from the multitude of resources and opportunities the worldwide web can provide. For many senior persons, the poor and marginalised if they have access to digital services it is limited, and they often lack the necessary skills to fully exploit them. This exacerbates feelings of abandonment and the effects of isolation. YMI supports the internet and user-friendly digital technologies being made available to all at affordable prices in the interest of global connectivity, equal opportunity, and social wellbeing.
  2. To reduce the impact of physical distancing: COVID-19 risks aggravating the social exclusion of senior persons through controls restricting movement and contact such as stay-at-home requirements, quar­antines, and lockdowns. While such measures are crucial for ensuring the public safety, the realities faced by senior persons must be taken into consideration and care taken not to increase their social isolation and subsequently worsen their health outcomes. YMI can help by creating safe spaces for small groups. We advocate for special care for strengthening the mental health and well-being of senior persons who are living alone through regular visitation of service club volunteers / health workers.

COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to humanity and presents a disproportion­ate threat to the health, lives, rights and well-being of the elderly, the poor and marginalised. It is crucial to minimise risks by addressing their needs and their rights in our efforts to fight the pandemic. COVID-19 recovery is an oppor­tunity to set the stage for a more inclusive, equitable and age-friendly society, anchored in a universal respect for human rights and guided by the shared promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to Leave No One Behind.

For Y’s Men International Executive Officers

Jose Varghese
International Secretary General