According to a recent child poverty report card published by the BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition last year, one in six children in the Central Okanagan are currently living in poverty. (Contributed)

United Way developing strategy to reduce poverty in Central Okanagan

Policy ideas now seek public input

The United Way Southern Interior BC (UWSIBC) strategy to develop a poverty and wellness strategy for the Central Okanagan has reached a public feedback stage.

Working with the Regional District of Central Okanagan and multiple other agency partners, the UWSIBC has been shepherding the strategy creation process to reduce poverty.

Naomi Woodland, poverty reduction manager for UWSIBC, said the community engagement aspect will be the final step before producing a final report in November for the regional district governance and services committee.

“We have developed an engagement plan that builds on strong, collaborative networks to identify actions and priorities that address poverty and wellness for the region,” said Woodland.

READ MORE: Regional district looks to create poverty strategy

She said the United Way has taken a leadership role in developing a poverty strategy in part because so many agencies it supports deal with people facing poverty and life wellness issues.

In March 2019, the province released their poverty reduction strategy called TogetherBC which set targets to reduce the overall poverty rate in British Columbia.

Provincial funding was made available through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to support local governments in reducing poverty at the local level.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan and member municipalities supported applying for a grant with the RDCO as the regional applicant and in May 2020 the UBCM awarded $149,000 for the development of a regional strategy to improve the wellbeing of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Woodland noted the City of Kelowna’s Journey Home initiative is a participant in the strategy committee planning process, with its specific focus on homelessness.

“Our strategy is an attempt to deal with the large picture priorities – housing, health, transportation, child and senior care, reconciliation and so many other different pieces,” she said.

When the final strategy is released in November, Woodland acknowledges funding will be the next challenge to help make the strategy recommendations become reality, the over-arching theme being to harness the power of collective action to make life better for everyone in the Central Okanagan.

Learn more about this project and how to take an active role check out https://unitedwaysibc.com/wellness-poverty-strategy/.

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Poverty