Understanding Poverty - United Way Alberta Capital Region

Understanding Poverty

July 25, 2019


Poverty is the most #UNIGNORABLE issue our community is facing today. It’s complex and trying to understand it can be challenging.
United Way offers a poverty simulation as a learning tool to help people with understanding poverty and the difficulties living in poverty brings on a daily basis. It works towards bringing a new perspective to how difficult it is to emerge from poverty when the necessary supports aren’t there.

The role-play experience often held at Edmonton’s Food Bank Food Annex lasts an hour with each 15 minute segment representing a week in poverty. Participants are given a family member role in one of 26 fictional low income families and interact with volunteers acting as agency workers, employers, daycare providers and other business owners to experience the challenges facing people in poverty. Each new week brings its own set of challenges to the participants.

A person's hands sorting bills of cash
After the simulation, participants surveyed revealed their understanding of the difficulties in improving one’s situation and become self-sufficient on a limited income rose from 28 per cent to 94 per cent. In addition, the understanding of the difficult choices people need to make each month when stretching a limited income also rose significantly from 32 per cent to a 95 per cent awareness.

“I found the experience eye-opening and life-changing,” said program participant Judy Batty.

“I think it’s a great learning opportunity and I’m happy to see a growing interest in the program because it means more people are becoming aware of the obstacles people living in poverty have to overcome each day.”

For more information on participating in a poverty simulation, please visit our Poverty Simulation event page.