Understanding root causes
United Way’s Community Impact Agenda identifies that United Way can create change not only through investments in critical programs and services, but also through efforts to advocate and mobilize our community to understand and respond to key issues that matter right here in London and Middlesex County.
That’s why, over recent years, United Way commissioned two integral pieces of research related to poverty:
- Working with the Centre for Community Based Research, United Way’s Poverty Impact Council sought to understand local practices related to cheque cashing and other “payday lending” activities in our community. Working with local residents and front-line service providers, as well as London’s Advocates Committee for the Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Programs, we looked to understand what makes people turn to short-term high-interest services rather than mainstream financial institutions. The research report was finalized in 2012 and used to engage our community in developing solutions.
- In partnership with Western University, community advocate and researcher Abe Oudshoorn, at the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, is leading a qualitative research study on poverty issues for United Way. Looking at social policies such as those related to affordable housing, mental health, and the criminal justice system, the research was completed in fall 2012 and used to advocate and create awareness for social policies that support people moving from poverty to self-sufficiency.
Together, the research studies allowed United Way to document and respond to the root causes of poverty in our community.
As non-profits seek to become more financially sustainable, United Way is leading the way with the Social Enterprise for Sustainable Communities project.
Spearheaded by United Way, Pillar Nonprofit Network and the Richard Ivey School of Business, this project works with agencies to increase their bottom-line while building skills and opportunities for their clients. In this three-year pilot project, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, London is being held up as a leader alongside the communities of Ottawa and Sarnia for province-wide learning.
As organizations receive training and coaching, United Way launched a multi-year Social Enterprise grants program in October 2011. With a commitment to invest in no fewer than three new projects over the next three years, the new funding helped advance United Way’s Community Impact Agenda by:
- Increasing opportunities for vulnerable/ marginalized individuals to engage and be included in the community
- Improving quality of life for vulnerable marginalized individuals by:
- Building resilience and assisting in recovery
- Building life skills and/or employable skills
- Promoting individual independence and improved self-esteem
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Or, if you are currently in crisis, please visit www.211ontario.ca when “you don’t know where to turn,” or simply call the 24/7, toll-free information and support telephone line at 2-1-1.