Without a place to call home, without money, without ID, navigating through the community becomes much more challenging. Some of us truly take it for granted that we can easily get from one place to another, call for help when we need it, find a bite to eat or a coffee when we crave it, and show ID if it is required.
As an organization, United Way is committed to creating pathways out of poverty and we see identification as one piece to that very complex puzzle. According to Sheri Torjman, a Canadian researcher in the area of Poverty Reduction, poverty is a complex issue, with no one cause and no one solution (2008). Income, or lack of income, is an obvious contributing factor to poverty. Identification, or lack of identification, is one challenge that might not come to mind as easily.
Did you know that without identification it is next to impossible to open a bank account, or cash a cheque; rent an apartment, apply for a job, or access any kind of government support? In reality, it becomes very challenging to fully participate in our community without ID.
As a result there have been a number of initiatives dedicated to making it easier to get and keep ID. These include:
ID working group committed increasing access to ID for everyone in our community.
United Way has released a “Do it Yourself Guide to Identification”. There are many different types of ID so this document will help navigate various systems.
Once someone has their ID it is important to secure it safely. There is a new ID Storage Unit housed at Boyle Street Community Services where you can safely store your ID once you have it, or ask them questions about getting ID if you require the extra hand.
Association of Alberta Registry Agents has developed an electronic virtual safe deposit box with Alberta Virtual Vault www.albertavirtualvault.ca that allows you to store copies of your identification documents for free.
Hopefully these resources will be helpful tools to both individuals and agencies. People have reported that getting their ID has been life changing. The more people understand the importance of identification, and the easier it becomes to get it, the more likely we will live in a city where everyone can fully participate and feel a sense of belonging.