The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is this weekend, but in Edmonton agencies like the Edmonton Social Planning Council (ESPC), United Way, and the Mustard Seed, work year-round to help low-income Edmontonians.

The ESPC is a small organization. But with five staff members and a volunteer board of directors, the council is trying to make a bigger impact on Edmonton’s low income community.

John Kolkman is the council’s research and policy analysis co-ordinator. He said ESPC tries to do as much as they can with the resources they have available.

“We try to provide timely information about low income trends to the community,” Kolkman said. “You need to have timely and up-to-date information in order to make good decisions about improvements in social policy.”

From the research that the council does, they make recommendations to all three levels of government on key issues affecting low-income Edmontonians.

They hold public forums and meetings, they do surveys, and as a council they reach out to the public on issues of low income.

“We try to be as much of a resource as we can to service providing organizations in the community,” Kolkman said. “The organizations that actually deliver the services to low income Edmontonians.”

Nancy Critchley, a spokesperson for the United Way said her organization does more than fundraise for the fight against poverty.

“Yes, that’s what we do but we’re in it for the long term and sustainable change,” she said.
“We’re in it for the today, tomorrow and forever.”

Krista Ball is a spokesperson for the Mustard Seed Church. She said whether you’re working on the street as a prostitute or simply having financial difficulties because you lost your job, the Mustard Seed will feed you.

“We want people to know they have a safe place to come eat with their family,” Ball said. “You just need to be hungry, and we have zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol in our facility.”