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

A free online series on advance care planning is being hosted by two Abbotsford organizations on Jan. 27 and Feb. 3 and 10. (Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash)
Online workshop series addresses ‘advance care planning’

Three sessions hosted by Abbotsford Hospice Society and Association for Healthy Aging

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near Chilliwack secondary

Third high-school related assault Rob Iezzi’s cameras have captured since beginning of 2021

Fraser Health issued an overdose alert on Jan. 21, 2021 after an increase in overdoses over the past week in Chilliwack associated with a “greeny-blue/turquoise down substance.” (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Fraser Health issues drug overdose alert in Chilliwack

Alert comes after increase in overdoses associated with ‘greeny-blue/turquoise down substance’

ds
Mission potbellied-pig sanctuary mourns death of beloved old hog named Roscoe

14-year-old, 800-pound pig was ‘quite a character,’ said owner Janice Gillett

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

Surrey Fire Service responded to a fire in the industrial area of 192nd street and 54th Avenue early Saturday morning (Jan. 23, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews respond to fire in industrial area

Fire happened early Saturday morning

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

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

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Most Read