Domestic Violence is #UNIGNORABLE
The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics reports that Edmonton is home to the third highest number of domestic homicides, family violence, and violence against seniors among all the provinces. Not only does domestic violence happen to women, but also to children, men, transgender individuals, immigrants, and seniors of all backgrounds. An alarming 8,500 domestic violence calls are received by the Edmonton Police Service each year. So how do we address domestic violence in our community?
The first step is to talk about it.
Perri Garvin, the Labour Programs Coordinator for United Way, has devoted much of his career to the Labour Community Advocate Program. Graduates of the program offer guidance, referrals and information to co-workers about problems related to drug or alcohol abuse, gambling, housing, personal finance, and domestic violence.
The newest United Way initiative that Garvin has helped to spearhead is called Cut It Out. The project educates hair stylists about the warning signs of abuse and how to connect their clients with services. Warning signs of abuse include missing appointments, withdrawing from conversation, unexplained bruising or scrapes, signs of depression and anxiety, and pain in the head or neck at the shampoo sink. The trained stylists are able to ask questions such as “Are you or your children in danger?” and “Would you be interested in hearing about the services that are available to you?”
Why hair dressers? Clients tend to build trust and a relationship with their stylist over the course of their recurring visits, leading them to feel comfortable enough to open up. Isolation from friends and family may be a burdening factor in abuse and victims may feel they have no one to confide in. Garvin advises that the words “I believe you” are powerful and help victims feel that someone is actually listening to them.
The second step is to educate yourself and others about local services.
United Way invests in community initiatives that provide those affected by family violence with counselling, safe spaces, and escape action plans. 211 another United Way supported service connects individuals experiencing abuse immediately to the social services available to them. Through education and spreading awareness about the unignorable issue of domestic violence, we are working together with our partners to build a safer community.
Humaira was in an abusive marriage when she immigrated to Canada. With her courage and the help of United Way funded programs, she was able to receive the support needed to escape her abuser.
Show Your Local Love.
Unemployment is #UNIGNORABLE
People living in low-income are the most vulnerable to employment loss, unemployment and under-employment. Many face barriers to employment such as limited education levels, high costs of transportation, lack of childcare, and a lack of required job skills.
Last year, more than 68,000 people were unemployed in Edmonton.
Unfavorable economic conditions due to factors such as low oil prices have had a detrimental effect on the local unemployment rate. At 6.6 per cent, Edmonton’s unemployment rate is above the national average and last year was at its highest since 1996 according to the Edmonton Social Planning Council’s Tracking the Trends 2018 report.
In a recent survey of Edmonton Food Bank clients, 78 per cent reported being unemployed. Forty-five per cent of clients who reported being unemployed had been out of work for more than three years. Of those who were working almost 60 per cent had only part time, casual or seasonal work.
Seven out of 10 respondents indicated their income as being less than $25,000. More than half of respondents reported that they would not need the food bank if they could increase their income by $500 a month.
Thanks to the help of donors, United Way invests in programs and initiatives that focus on increasing an individual’s capacity to obtain and retain employment that provides for basic economic security. This includes programs to increase employment readiness for those over represented in poverty, such as Indigenous populations, newcomers and women. United Way also supports employment opportunities for youth and people with disabilities.
Helping individuals and families attain employment, boost their household income through higher wages and government benefits, increase their savings, invest in their children’s future, and access mainstream banking are effective ways to make sure everyone in our community thrives. Examples of United Way supported services addressing these issues include linkage to education savings and bonds programs, literacy and math tutoring, language and computer classes, resume support, and providing equipment such as work boots.
Additionally, United Way works collaboratively to advance systems and policy change to promote a sustainable income for individuals.
Learn more about United Way’s work.
Zoe was struggling to find employment until she connected with a United Way program that helped her unlock new opportunities. Click below to see Zoe’s story.
United Way’s #UNIGNORABLE campaign draws on a long tradition of art for social change. United Ways across the country partnered with Pantone® to create a signature colour to help raise awareness about local issues. Multiple artists have also contributed to bringing this campaign to life, both nationally and locally.