It’s easier than ever for local residents to engage with United Way of the Lower Mainland in their own neighbourhoods. A United Way volunteer connects with residents on Family Day 2019, when little libraries were installed in Clayton Heights, Surrey. Photo: Jennifer Sutherland, JLS Photography.

It’s easier than ever for local residents to engage with United Way of the Lower Mainland in their own neighbourhoods. A United Way volunteer connects with residents on Family Day 2019, when little libraries were installed in Clayton Heights, Surrey. Photo: Jennifer Sutherland, JLS Photography.

United Way charts innovative course for community

Building connections to tackle challenges of social isolation

As United Way of the Lower Mainland reflects on its 90th anniversary in 2020, it’s easy to look back at the accomplishments achieved over the last nine decades. Perhaps more exciting, though, is the innovative ideas taking the organization forward.

Like the community it serves, the United Way has changed a lot since its founding in 1930, and key to its longevity and continued relevance is its ability to evolve. While continuing to invest in local programs and services with demonstrable, sustainable impact, today United Way is also involved in local communities like never before, sharing the impact of local love.

Tackling the reality of social isolation

Why the shift? Whether due to changing family dynamics, the isolating effects of technology or myriad other factors, social isolation is increasing.

Research conducted by United Way found that nearly half of BC residents say they sometimes feel lonely – a statistic that may come as little surprise with the recent Blue Monday, Jan. 20, dubbed the loneliest day of the year.

Retirees may miss the camaraderie of the workplace while widowers may have lost the social engagements their spouse encouraged. Adults with long commutes may have little time left to build neighbourhood connections. Young people in a new neighbourhood may miss family and friend supports.

“Social isolation has many different faces and often it’s hidden; that’s why United Way is tackling loneliness head-on,” says Kim Winchell, Director, Social Impact, Community Impact & Investment for United Way of the Lower Mainland.

The implications of that loneliness are far-reaching, whether decreasing people’s resilience to life’s challenges or increasing mental or physical health concerns.

The good news is that the United Way’s research offers hope, too: 21 per cent said volunteering is more meaningful with other people you know.

“Programs alone, and citizens alone, cannot solve social isolation. But put together, we can create sustainable, healthy communities.”

United Way: At work in your community

That’s something that resonates with Penny Bradley, Executive Director, Alexandra Neighbourhood House, building community in the Surrey and White Rock communities since 1916.

When families from Clayton’s Katzi Elementary were in dire need of after-school care, United Way proposed a collaborative approach. They provided funds to Alexandra House for a new United Way School’s Out program, but also helped co-create the program in partnership with the agency and local residents.

United Way has worked with Bradley’s team to explore local needs and ideas. Today, one youth worker connects with younger students and another with older ones, who are mentored to give back by working with their younger counterparts. Through that rewarding experience, it’s hoped they might later return as volunteers, Bradley explains.

“It’s been really exciting for us to do things differently. It’s building those connections and volunteerism from the ground up.”

From that foundation, more is coming.

“If you have engaged neighbours and people talking to each other, it builds a stronger community.”

Other United Way initiatives include its grassroots Hi Neighbour program, working with local residents to build neighbourhood programs that build connections, whether it’s “little libraries,” seniors’ walking groups or block parties.

To learn more visit uwlm.ca/hineighbour

.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Now it’s in 90th year, United Way continues to partner with donors, citizens, workplaces and unions, but its Hi Neighbour initiative brings these groups in much closer collaboration, in their own neighbourhoods. In 2019 workers from CUPE 402, local schools and people at the Surrey Pretrial Centre fabricated little libraries and worked with residents to install them in Clayton Heights, Surrey. Photo by JLS Photography

Now it’s in 90th year, United Way continues to partner with donors, citizens, workplaces and unions, but its Hi Neighbour initiative brings these groups in much closer collaboration, in their own neighbourhoods. In 2019 workers from CUPE 402, local schools and people at the Surrey Pretrial Centre fabricated little libraries and worked with residents to install them in Clayton Heights, Surrey. Photo by JLS Photography

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Russell Jonathon George Gurney was last seen in Chilliwack in mid-December. (RCMP photo)
RCMP ask for help to find missing Abbotsford man last seen in Chilliwack

Police and family are concerned for the well-being of Russell Jonathon George Gurney

The Harrison Hot Springs village office, as seen from the back. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Harrison village staff to get additional office space

The village has agreed to spend up to $75,000 of the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant on a new portable

Harrison Hot Springs kindergarten students held a peaceful protest Monday (Jan. 18) to end separated recess. The protest was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and his lessons of non-violent action. Check out page XX for the whole story. (Dustin Neufeld/Contributed)
PHOTOS: Harrison students launch peaceful protest against playground division for MLK day

The kindergarten students negotiated with the school principal to enable recess on both playgrounds

Ottawa serial killer Camille Joseph Cleroux died of natural causes at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution on Sunday.
Serial killer housed at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution dies of natural causes

Camille Joseph Cleroux announced dead on Sunday, known as notorious Ottawa serial killer

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Most Read