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.”