Volunteers needed to help spread poverty awareness.

United Way Winnipeg needs volunteers for the Living on the Edge: Taking a Look at Poverty simulation.

Are you looking for a unique experience that allows you to learn more about important issues in Winnipeg?

Volunteers at a poverty simulation.Simulation volunteers act as agency, business and servicerepresentatives throughout the duration of a Living on the Edge poverty simulation.

Volunteer requirements:

    • No preparation, previous knowledge or other experience needed.
    • Each simulation requires approximately 3.5 hours, most often during the day

This is a great opportunity to help educate others on the realities of poverty while you develop and enhance your own interpersonal, leadership, and communication skills.

To learn more, please contact United Way
at 204-477-5360 or lote@unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca

What is Living on the Edge?

Living on the Edge is a unique experience designed to provide a glimpse into what it might be like to live on a low income trying to survive from month to month. Participants are placed in different households, each with a story that describes their financial situation. The simulation is divided into four simulated weeks. Following the simulation, participants and volunteers debrief the experience and learn more about the role United Way Winnipeg plays in addressing poverty.

Volunteers are integral to the poverty simulation experience. As participants go through the month they visit and utilize a number of community services and resources such as the bank, grocery store, social service office, and family resource centre. Volunteers serve as the staffers of these different community service and resource offices, helping guide participants throughout the experience of the poverty simulation.

The Winnipeg Promise will help more children get a higher education.

Poverty is a complex and critical issue in Winnipeg, and United Way works with many partners who share the belief that any and all steps we can take towards ending it are important.

At the Cities Reducing Poverty: When Mayors Lead summit, Mayor Bowman announced The Winnipeg Promise, a steering committee dedicated to removing barriers that prevent low income families from accessing the Canada Learning Bond.

Families can benefit from increased access to supports like the Canada Leaning Bond.

Photo: Winnipeg Boldness Project.

The Canada Learning Bond is money the Government of Canada deposits directly into a child’s Registered Education Savings Plan, and though many low-income Canadians are eligible, not all know about the program or take advantage of the money it provides. Some face barriers like not having identification, established bank accounts, or a stable address to receive mail.

And sometimes, the barriers are social isolation, stigma and mistrust.

Easier access to the Canada Learning Bond could make a practical and real difference, inspiring hope for the future in families where money for an education after high school is hard to come by.

United Way President & CEO Connie Walker is part of the committee, along with voices from the Indigenous community and the social, business, health, and education sectors.

It’s exciting to see the commitment Mayor Bowman, the McConnell Foundation, and leaders throughout the community have to easing the barriers poverty puts in the path of Winnipeg families.

We’re looking forward to working with our community on this and many other efforts needed to lift children and families out of poverty. And we’re really looking forward to more Winnipeg children—and their families—feeling hopeful about their bright futures.

Family Resource Centres vital to neighbourhood health

Study shows negative cycles are broken, strength and empowerment are gained through Family Resource Centres

An isolated mother connects with neighbours and takes a parenting class. Pre-school kids are fed and enjoy an educational play room. A low-income family does their laundry, while a phone and computer help someone with their job search.

Doing laundry at the Andrews Street Family Centre in Winnipeg's North End

Doing laundry at the Andrews Street Family Centre in Winnipeg’s North End

These things happen quietly, every day, in neighbourhoods across Winnipeg at Family Resource Centres — outposts of strength and support for people who need a little extra help.

The Plessis Road Family Resource Centre in Transcona feeds about 60 children before school.

The Plessis Road Family Resource Centre in Transcona feeds about 60 children before school.

A before-school breakfast program is also a time for positive interaction and learning. About 150 to 200 people access Plessis Road FRC each day to eat, socialize, do crafting, laundry, use the computer or get counselling.

A before-school breakfast program is also a time for positive interaction and learning. About 150 to 200 people access Plessis Road FRC each day to eat, socialize, do crafting, laundry, use the computer or get counselling.

A 2015 United Way Winnipeg study looked at 22 centres in our city. It concluded that Family Resource Centres are critical to the health of our neighbourhoods.

“This centre was the first time I was stable for my kids… they have a stability that I didn’t have as a kid. This place is an anchor,” said a mother in the study.

Dawn found a sense of safety, home and family at Andrews Street after leaving an abusive situation.

Dawn says she found a sense of safety, home and family at Andrews Street after leaving an abusive situation.

Study participants reported breaking negative cycles. They found strength, empowerment, and learned to trust and build their self-esteem.

“The Centre helped me find myself again. Being involved gave me a sense of purpose… I started reflecting on what I needed to do to get my life on track again.”

There's always time for a hug at Wolseley Family Place.

There’s always time for a hug at Wolseley Family Place.

The Winnipeg study — Possibility & Opportunity — found holistic, strength-based and preventative approaches at Family Resource Centres are helping vulnerable individuals, families and neighbourhoods become stronger.

Single mother Angela learned to read through Westgrove Family Resource Centre in Charleswood, and now helps neighbours who are newcomers struggling with English.

Single mom Angela learned to read through Westgrove Family Resource Centre in Charleswood, and now helps neighbours who are newcomers struggling with English.

They are bonding families and creating better outcomes for children and our shared future.
To celebrate 50 years of caring in Winnipeg, United Way is focusing on this essential network of support for families and kids.

Through United Way, Winnipeggers support 24 Family Resource Centres that provided help to more than 35,000 people in Winnipeg last year. It’s ordinary, everyday magic that is geared to the needs of individual communities.

The Up Shoppe, a social enterprise of the North End Women's Centre, teaches skills and is a source of low-cost quality clothing and household items in the community.

The Up Shoppe, a social enterprise of the North End Women’s Centre, teaches skills and is a source of low-cost quality clothing and household items in the community.

“I know from my work as a public health nurse decades ago that some families have more complicated lives than I do,” said United Way Winnipeg president and CEO Connie Walker during a recent visit to see the breakfast program and ‘walking school bus’ at the Plessis Road Family Resource Centre.

The 'walking school bus' was begun by the Plessis Road Family Resource Centre to improve school attendance.

The ‘walking school bus’ from the Plessis Road Family Resource Centre was a community-driven idea to improve school attendance.

“When families live in difficult circumstances there are things our communities can do to help.”

This year, consider a special gift for Family Resource Centres, and help build a stronger Winnipeg by supporting these front lines of compassion, caring, and hope for families throughout our city.

Donate online at www.unitedwaywinnipeg.ca/give or by calling 204-477-UWAY (8929).

DLittle Photo June 5 2015 0008

24 United Way-supported Family Resource Centres throughout Winnipeg.

24 United Way-supported Family Resource Centres throughout Winnipeg.

Originally published by Canstar Community News.

Can you ‘Make The Month’?

One in 10 Winnipeggers live in poverty. For children, the number rises to a shocking one in 4.

Life in poverty is a daily battle with hunger, stress, isolation and constant worry. The choices in front of people with a tight budget are hard.

We’re offering Make The Month—Canada’s first online poverty simulation—as a glimpse into the struggle 10% of Winnipeggers face trying to make ends meet. It challenges you to see if you can stay financially afloat for one month on a poverty-level income.

It will give you a new perspective on poverty. And what you learn might affect you forever.

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The Winnipeg-based simulation offers a choice of trying to navigate the challenges and frustrations of living in poverty as a single person, single parent or two-parent family.

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Participants are presented with a series of life choices each day that can affect their finances and well-being as they try to make it through two paydays to the end of the month.

With 5 days until payday and only $20 in the bank the outlook for this simulation participant is bleak.

With 5 days until payday and only $20 in the bank the outlook for this simulation participant is bleak.

Register your child for hockey or not? Pay the utility bill? Get dental work done, or live with the consequences. Your child is sick—do you miss work, send your child to school, or leave your child alone?

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Mary van Eerd-Cook, a single mother of six, faced financial and emotional hardship with the end of a 25-year marriage and onset of a severe tooth infection that proved to be life-threatening.

Mary van Eerd-Cook lifted her family out of poverty with United Way-supported programming.

Mary van Eerd-Cook lifted her family out of poverty with United Way-supported programming.

She describes how United Way-supported money management training and an asset-building program allowed her to get the infection treated and complete her education.

“I’m here because of it. I’m actually here because of it. That’s how far gone the infection was,” Mary says.

Heather Block, United Way’s director of strategic initiatives and lead facilitator for United Way Winnipeg’s real-life poverty simulation Living on the Edge, says an online simulation obviously cannot capture the full reality of a life in poverty, “but through Make The Month, people can get a better understanding of this complex issue.”

Almost 62,000 people across Manitoba received emergency food assistance from Winnipeg Harvest in 2014 – up 53% from six years earlier. Additionally, Manitoba has the second highest percentage of children using the food bank of all provinces – 44% in 2014

Can you Make The Month? Give it a try at www.makethemonth.ca/winnipeg.

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.

The “Plan to End Homelessness in Winnipeg” released.

Winnipeg’s Community Task Force to End Homelessness has released The Plan To End Homelessness in Winnipeg (PDF).

Media conference for the Plan to End Homelessness in Winnipeg announcement.

Rob Johnston, co-chair of the Community Task Force, announces The Plan to End Homelessness in Winnipeg. Photo by Doug Little.

Humbled and inspired by the personal stories of more than 80 people with lived homelessness experience (PDF), the Task Force—convened by United Way and Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council—consulted with many Winnipeggers who have a stake in ending homelessness: from a Council of Elders to the non-profit service providers who work daily to meet the needs of people on the street; from government policymakers to the private sector.

This collection of voices shaped the plan into a shared vision of what’s possible.

Shifting our thinking, as a community, from managing homelessness to ending it.

The Plan’s boldest element is the notion of a new non-profit organization to provide leadership, coordination, and centralized funding, whose sole focus is ending homelessness in Winnipeg.

The goal is to create a streamlined process that fasttracks homeless individuals into housing, per the emerging best practice of Housing First.

As a community, we need to shift our thinking from managing homelessness to ending it. Make no mistake – we are housing some of the chronically homeless people in our city – but we are doing it in emergency beds, in hospital waiting rooms, in ambulances, in jails and detention centres – and not only is this some of the most expensive housing around, this is not how people should live.

Plan to end homelessness in Winnipeg.

The Plan’s 4 key focus areas.

1. Prevent homelessness, by creating accessible pathways to permanent housing for people who are leaving hospitals, institutions and Children’s Service Authorities. Create a “one-stop” resource and centralized intake targeted to the needs of people at risk of homelessness, so they can easily access all available information, help and money.

2. Create a person-centred system of care. Most people will end their homelessness on their own or with the services currently available. But for some, mental illness, long-term substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and developmental disabilities make it difficult for them to end their homelessness with the support currently available.  They need an actual system of care created, focused specifically on ending homelessness through “Housing With Supports” programs.

3. Increase the supply and availability of housing to combat Winnipeg’s low vacancy rate, including the ultimate creation of 7500 affordable housing units.

4. Measure what we do, so we can be sure it’s making life better in Winnipeg. Conduct an annual census of homeless people, and make the data easy to share.

An action plan for a healthier, stronger Winnipeg.

The Plan also includes an action plan to guide the bold first steps of the new nonprofit.

Many voices

Throughout the work of the Task Force we have ensured that the voices of those who are or who have been homeless have been paramount. We could not conceive of this plan without also including their voices.  This is the lived experience of Fred Knoedler, someone who has been homeless in Winnipeg.

We believe we can end homelessness in Winnipeg, improve the quality of people’s lives, reduce the burden on emergency services, and address one of the roots causes of chronic poverty in our community.

We encourage you to read the plan, dream big about what we can all accomplish together, and to contact us if you’d like to get involved in making homelessness history.

Community Task Force Members

Lucille Bruce
Steve Chipman
Réal Cloutier
Cindy Coker
Joy Cramer
Dr. Jino Distasio
Sandy Hopkins
Rob Johnston
Floyd Perras
Ian Rabb
Michael Robertson
Dianne Roussin
Clive Wightman
Joe Kronstal

Elders Council

David Budd
Mae Louise Campbell
Michael Esquash
Bertha Fontaine
Jo Jo Sutherland