Insecure. Left out. Hungry. Undervalued. Embarrassed. Unloved. These are just some of the feelings children experience when living in poverty. For families, it means so much more than not having enough money. It means devoting more time to just surviving; it can mean forgetting what hope is, living in fear of what might happen today or the next. It’s time for this to change.
Poverty is incredibly complex and, for individuals and families who are experiencing it, the struggle to emerge is a daily battle unlike many can imagine.
Quite simply, poverty is about not being able to make ends meet – it goes further than a lack of food, shelter and clothing. It’s accompanied by a loss of self-esteem, identity, privilege and power.
Over the past 70 years, United Way has been well known for the substantial funds we raise and the programs and services these resources support through more than 50 funded agencies in the region. We will continue this work with our valued partners; however, it is not enough to simply manage poverty. We need to work toward ending it.
Today is a significant day for United Way in our region. Supporters representing non-profit, government, labour and corporate sectors in the community gathered at the Shaw Conference Centre to launch and celebrate our new results-based approach focused on Creating Pathways Out of Poverty.
For the past two years, we have examined our role in the community as well as the impact we have on addressing the most pressing social issues in our region - poverty is at the core of these issues.
United Way is seen as a trusted leader in mobilization efforts – helping to bring community together in a collaborative effort that moves us from managing poverty to creating pathways out of it. No one organization can address poverty alone. It takes a community-wide effort.
Through consultation with partners in the not-for profit sector and government – as well as the community at-large – we have developed 12 desired results toward addressing poverty. These results will guide the development of strategies, targets and an annual scorecard measuring the progress we make together as a community. The formula, we believe, to see tremendous and lasting change in the coming months and years.
If we are to be successful as a community, it takes a truly collaborative effort. And as they say: “timing is everything.” At no time in the 70-year history of United Way in the Alberta Capital Region has the alignment with pro toward a common goal been stronger. United Way is pleased to have been asked to participate in discussions at both the provincial and municipal level, providing our knowledge of the sector and the issues we face.
In February of 2013, the Alberta government developed and released the Social Policy Framework, aimed at addressing helping determine how to address social challenges and measure evaluation and success. Along with this, helping children in need is one of the top priorities with a commitment to end child poverty within five years.
The City of Edmonton continues to make strides with the 10-year-Plan to End Homelessness and their recent development of the Edmonton Poverty Elimination Initiative, using United Way’s Community Impact Framework as a foundation. United Way’s engagement in these efforts goes further, seeing us partner to co-chair a steering committee focused on this work.
From a corporate and community-wide perspective, we have every indication that the desire to move forward with a bold vision and plan for our community is favoured.
We invite you to join us in helping to create pathways out of poverty. Explore our website and sign the statement – show your commitment to a better Alberta Capital Region. Now is the time.
United Way Board Chair