Vancouver is a city known for its lush forests, oceanside lifestyle, and milder temperatures. People flock here, even though it consistently breaks its own rainfall records. But through all that rain, Vancouver is breaking other, more damaging records. Homelessness is on the rise in Vancouver communities. Like the weather, it does not discriminate and can impact anyone. In 2017, a total of 3,605 people in the Vancouver area were identified as homeless—a 30% increase from 2014 and the highest number to date. Although these recent statistics reported by Metro Vancouver depict a bleak situation, a positive future is not a lost cause for the Vancouver homeless population. There are so many ways business owners and individuals can support the homeless and become an active part of the solution. Sometimes all it takes is your time and thoughtfulness to make a real difference. Here are a few ways you and your business can become engaged in the community and help the homeless.
One of the easiest and most direct ways you can help the homeless is through donations. Whether it’s food, clothing, blankets, appliances, furniture, or toys, begin donating previously loved items to your local shelter, food bank, or even to the homeless directly.
If you’d like to raise a larger sum of money to support the homeless, start a fundraiser for a local foundation, nonprofit society, or shelter where proceeds directly benefit the community. Put on a charity gala, concert, or silent auction and gather donated prizes from other local businesses.
Rally your employees and volunteer your time to a homeless shelter together. It’s eye-opening to get a sense of the homelessness situation from the inside. Help out by distributing warm clothes, serving meals, picking up phones, or reading to kids at a list of shelters in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
Remove barriers and help the homeless get back on their feet. Join a program like WorkWithUs to help individuals reach their potential and contribute to the economy. It’s incredibly valuable to help a marginalized population become active members of the community.
The homeless population often does not have a voice. Speak up for your community and contact local representatives to push for new legislation to help the homeless. In Vancouver, the issue of homelessness is more than one individual or business can solve on their own. Stay updated on local policies and programs and attend public meetings.
Sometimes all it takes is acknowledgement and a smile. Instead of looking down or turning away from a homeless person on the street, recognize that they are human and doing what they can day-to-day. When you respond with kindness, you can make a huge difference in someone’s life.
Helping our homeless and marginalized communities in Canada requires public, private and nonprofit sectors to come together to create sustainable, long-term solutions for medical care, housing, and employment. As a registered non-profit, WorkWithUs is looking to work with companies who want to foster thriving citizens through community inclusiveness and meaningful employment. Learn how WorkWithUs can help.