Taking aim at poverty

The first step to eradicating poverty is building strong communities.

The first step to eradicating poverty is building strong communities.

That’s the message from United Way Lower Mainland, which is taking a solutions-based approach to tackling poverty’s roots — starting with at-risk children.

“I think people can get overwhelmed by the feeling that the poor will always be among us, and (they think), ‘There’s nothing I can do personally on my own,’” said Deborah Irvine, United Way’s vice-president of community impact and investment.

United Way has taken a behind-the-scenes, preventative approach to addressing poverty in Vancouver’s Lower Mainland, Irvine said. United Way has identified three groups — young children up to age six, school-aged children between six and 12, and seniors — as the keys to building strong communities that will in turn, end poverty.

Ensuring children and their parents get what they need for a safe, nurturing home environment is at the forefront of United Way’s strategy.

“If young children are developmentally ready for school, chances that they have a really good chance to graduate from school, to land really well-paying jobs, to form attachments and relationships,” Irvine added.

Irvine acknowledged that the grip poverty has on the city is tight and far-reaching, but said there is hope for a better future so long as people from all walks of life are willing to chip in and lend a helping hand.

“I think (the solution) is a combination of lending your voice and digging into your pockets.”

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