Thursday, February 25, 2016

Reducing poverty for people of all ages in Langley

Back when I lived in Vernon, I worked at a grocery store that was located in Downtown. Just like the City of Langley, there was a large population of seniors who lived in the area. I would regularly see these people as customer who would only buy a can of soup and a banana each day. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was likely the only meal they were eating in a day.

I also saw people who could no longer look after themselves; they didn’t have a place to go for support, or family that could help them.

Poverty does not discriminate based on age or family status.

During the Langley City by-election, there has been a lot of talk about people living on the street who are homeless, but little has been said about people living in poverty, and who are at the verge of being homeless.

When I was at the all-candidates debate on Monday, an older lady came up to me and told me her story. Living on a fixed-income with ever rising costs, she told me her quality-of-life was deteriorating.

Last fall, Langley Healthier Community Partnership hosted a workshop called “From Poverty to Prosperity – Working Toward a Healthier Community.” The City and Township of Langley, plus Fraser Health are members of the partnership.

Four Langley residents who live on low incomes were interviewing in the summer of 2015. These interviews were graphically recorded. A Mental Health Perspective, Youth Perspective, Seniors Perspective, and Family Perspective were mapped out. The following is the Seniors Perspective.

Family Journey #3 - Senior Perspective. Select image to enlarge.

During the workshop, attendees mapped out the barriers and challenges to getting out of poverty.

Barriers/Challenges Mapping. Select image to enlarge.

The attendees then came up with an action plan to help people get out of poverty.

High-Level Action Plan. Select image to enlarge.

While some of the items in the action plan will require the support of the federal and provincial government to more forward, such as housing funding, many items can be done at the local level. This includes creating safe, accessible spaces, and creating a poverty reduction coalition.

I look forward to seeing a more detailed work plan developed as an outcome of this workshop to improve the quality-of-life for people in Langley. As a society, we need to look after people who are the most vulnerable.

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