Experience Living on the Edge poverty simulation

Through a poverty simulation you can walk a metaphorical mile in the lives of Winnipeggers experiencing poverty.

United Way Winnipeg regularly works with experts, leading organizations and community members to gather and share information that can build knowledge and influence real and lasting change in our city. One of our newest tools in this pursuit is the Living on the Edge poverty simulation.

Living on the Edge: Taking a Look at Poverty is a unique group experience designed to provide a glimpse into what life might be like for families living in low-income situations. Participants are placed in family units and provided with a summary of their financial situation. The two to three-hour simulation is divided into four short “weeks” during which families perform day-to-day tasks like sending children to school or childcare, getting to or finding work, paying bills, visiting social services, buying groceries, cashing cheques and more. Following the simulation, participants have an opportunity to share and discuss what they learned and felt during a facilitated debrief.

Participate in a poverty simulation

Join groups from business, government and education who’ve already experienced the powerful impact of a Living on the Edge poverty simulation. It’s an ideal team-building exercise for groups of 40 to 80 who are seeking unique opportunities to enhance tolerance, compassion and empathy among their members or workforce.
For more information or to arrange a poverty simulation for your group or organization, contact United Way of Winnipeg by calling 204-477-5360, or email lote@unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca.

Volunteer

Looking for ways to make a difference but don’t have a lot of time? You can play an important role in bringing Living on the Edge poverty simulations to life by playing a role as one of our simulated community service representatives. Requiring approximately four hours for each simulation, it’s the perfect opportunity to enhance your interpersonal, leadership and communication skills while helping people in our community understand the realities of poverty.

No experience, previous knowledge or preparation required.

For more information, contact United Way of Winnipeg by calling 204-477-5360, or email lote@unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca.

Poverty is not a game.

If you don’t understand a problem, how can you be part of the solution?

We host a poverty simulation called Living on the Edge, where people are given roles—single parent, senior with dementia, person experiencing homelessness, teen mother—and they try to make life work without very much money.

LoTE Volunteer Briefing

Volunteers learning about their upcoming roles as service providers, landlords, and other figures in the lives of those experiencing poverty in Winnipeg.

They try to pay their bills, fix their cars, and put enough food on the table for their families. It quickly becomes clear that the choices open to a person in poverty are very limited.

It’s eye-opening. It’s empathy-building. It makes Winnipeggers look around them and really see each other.

“When I headed back to my school, it was like a flood gate opened. I cried all the way.”
—Lorelei Bunkowsky, School Principal, after experiencing Living On The Edge.

Yesterday we shared Living on the Edge with Winnipeg Free Press participants.

We don’t call this experience a “game,” as poverty is certainly not a game. We do receive questions about the sensitivity of “pretending” to be poor.

Questions About Poverty

It’s hard to start addressing poverty if you can’t relate to it. That’s why we offer the simulation, as an entry point for people who haven’t lived it.

We’re not the only United Way to offer these experiences—United Way of Alberta Capital Region facilitates one, as does United Way of Calgary. Calgary has also created an online version called “Make the Month,” challenging people to try to make it through a month of limited resources. Others have created similar online poverty experiences.

Out Of Money

We want a Winnipeg where poverty is a thing of the past. As the country notes with dismay that the goal to end child poverty by the turn of the last century wasn’t accomplished—and 22.4% of children in Manitoba live in poverty—we think increasing understanding of the daily experience of poverty is critical.

“So what?”

The question of “now what?” is also important. Once you’ve experienced the frustration, worry and limitations imposed by poverty, what can you do with this information?

At the end of Living on the Edge, we ask people how this will impact their own lives. Will it change their actions, how they deal with people?

“If you take one thing away from the experience, we hope that when you see somebody who’s obviously living in poverty, and struggling, that you start to see them as individuals and not as a demographic. That you see them through the eyes of compassion.”
—Heather Block, Director, Strategic Initiatives, United Way of Winnipeg

We work with 100+ agency partners who are all responding to poverty in ways that make sense in their own neighbourhoods. Addressing the root causes of poverty in our city makes it stronger for us all.

We invite you to contribute and be part of that strength.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: help shine a light on poverty in Winnipeg.

The more we all come to understand the limitations poverty puts on people and families in Winnipeg, the harder we will all fight to see it end.

You can help your fellow Winnipeggers to empathize through experiencing a Living on the Edge Poverty Simulation—a unique experience United Way organizes to shine the light on what it’s like to live in poverty.

Samantha Procyshyn, one of our Campaign 2104 Sponsored Executives, volunteered at a Living on the Edge experience today with staff from Richardson International.

“The poverty simulation was very profound.

Participants quickly found that they had to stretch their resources and navigate through the various social agencies in order to take care of their families and survive each day.

Visiting the social agencies required use of one of the most important and limited resources we have; time.

With limited time and resources, participants were forced to prioritize their responsibilities and make difficult decisions that affect their family in order to survive each day.

With the emphasis of surviving each day, planning for the future dropped down on the priority list.

Through assuming the roles of  people in real life situations living through difficult circumstances, the poverty simulation helped to humanize poverty and make it more relatable by providing a glimpse of what 136,000 Manitobans experience every day.”

These experiences require a number of adult volunteers, and during our annual fall Campaign requests increase. We could use your help! It’s usually a 3.5 hour time commitment, which includes training.

You’ll play a role—literally—in helping others to understand and empathize with what so many Winnipeggers experience daily.

To volunteer your time, please call us at 204-477-5360, or email lote@unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca.