Canadian Musician - May/June 2021 - Page 9

FIRST TAKE

The Unison Benevolent Fund Is There to Support Those Who Make the Music You Love

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career in the music industry can be tough on people even during the best of times . Yet , when we at the Unison Benevolent Fund answered the call to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on Canada ’ s music industry in March 2020 , the effects of the pandemic were impossible to foresee .
For many of us , it feels as if the world was hit with COVID-19 almost overnight , the effects equal parts swift and devastating . Musicians and live music workers from all around the world were forced to postpone or abandon tours and isolate . Physical distancing and staying at home were the right decision ; however , isolation has left many artists and road crews in limbo , and at a higher risk for a mental health crisis .
Though we continue to see signs of recovery and a gradual return to work for some in music , prospects remain dim for so many others as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave a void in our communities across the country . So many opportunities for upcoming work are up in the air and some already fragile careers are in deeper jeopardy . Not to mention the suffering of those who are ill or are caring for a loved one in need . Although the Unison Fund has always been in the business of providing emergency aid to music industry members , the sheer magnitude of this crisis has introduced a new and urgent meaning to our work .
Our lifesaving programs turn despair into hope . Unison Fund , Canada ’ s music industry charity , provides counselling and emergency financial assistance to Canadian music industry professionals who have encountered an unforeseeable emergency , such as recovering from an illness , injury , or other circumstances that result in an inability to work , and severe economic or personal hardship . We believe that by supporting the health and well-being of music industry professionals , the industry as a whole will benefit . In a sector in which employment can be unpredictable , it ’ s important to know that a caring community has your back .
Mental illness doesn ’ t simply go away during a pandemic , and for many , it gets worse . Social distancing and closures have made it more difficult to access existing mental health support and programs . Plus , social isolation and the current uncertainty results in many needing additional support . Unison ’ s counselling and health solutions services can be provided over the phone or online and can address a wide range of topics , including mental health support , managing relationships and family life , finding child and elder care resources , legal advice , financial guidance , workplace challenges , tackling addiction or substance use , or improving nutrition . All services are free , anonymous , confidential , and available 24 hours a day , seven days a week , in English and French .
For over a decade , Unison has been committed to helping producers , engineers , singers and songwriters , musicians , production crews , and thousands more through our lifesaving programs . At this time , Unison continues to assist thousands of music industry professionals in times of crisis . In the last 12 months , Unison Fund has distributed over $ 2.3 million in emergency financial aid to help professionals working in all aspects of the music industry , with double the amount of funds dispersed in 2020 than in all other years combined . We are ready and we are helping .
We know this situation is stressful for everyone ; people living with mental illness and addictions may be finding it especially difficult to cope . The pandemic and ensuing events have shown us in the truest , grandest sense , that the only way forward is together – we are all stronger that way . In that spirit , Unison ’ s services remain available for everyone in the music industry . Please stay safe and know that the Unison Benevolent Fund is here to help . Remember : no matter where you are or what you ’ re going through , you don ’ t have to go through it alone . Music is the centerpiece of our mission , and we are proud to stand with our community and
By Roo Kailey
provide a space to do good .
We encourage you to reach out for support if you ’ re struggling or know someone who is . If you would like to help push our mission and can afford to share your time , voice , information , and resources , please do so ! There has never been a more important time to give . Thousands of individuals in our industry need us to act now – our crisis as an organization is not over . Unison Fund needs to find new revenue streams and other opportunities beyond our membership and donations , which we are incredibly grateful for , but recognize are no longer enough if we want to keep our doors open . In order to continue to serve the music industry on a national scale , Unison is actively seeking financial support from those who believe in our mission and want to keep our lifesaving programs afloat .
To learn more about the Unison Fund , registration , and / or eligibility , and to donate to help music workers reeling from the devastation of COVID-19 , please visit us at www . unisonfund . ca .
Roo Kailey is the Marketing & Communications Manager at Unison Benevolent Fund .
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