Reflecting on poverty in Calgary
Holly DeSimone is VCC’s Social Media Coordinator. Holly has been with VCC since 2016. She also volunteers with Poverty Talks! and the National Framework for Engagement and Dialogue with the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.
October is End Poverty Month in Calgary. Perhaps you’ve already joined in an event or took part in the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17. Maybe you’ve taken the opportunity to talk with a friend or colleague about poverty in our city.
One thing I know is that poverty is impacting our city. According to the latest numbers on the national poverty line, one in eight Calgarians are experiencing income poverty and that was before the pandemic.
For me, the pandemic highlighted many inequalities in our city including access to food and housing.
These inequalities become very clear when I see homeless individuals seeking shelter in the doorway of my building. Many walk past because they’re not sure how to help. With colder weather just around the corner, it is difficult to see people living in poverty on my front doorstep.
With my work as a social media coordinator, I am noticing individuals every day asking for aid on social platforms just to meet their family’s basic needs.
The root causes of poverty are complex even without a pandemic.
I have seen people struggling to buy protective equipment, people who are spending savings on delivery costs for groceries because they want to limit exposure to COVID-19 as they have compromised immune systems or medical conditions.
I’ve heard throughout the pandemic that “we are all in it together.” But I also know neighbours who are struggling and deciding what bills to pay every month like rent, food, electricity, transportation and internet.
Living through this challenging year, I see the effects on people’s physical and mental health. Trying to balance life, work, and deal with our new normal is no small task.
As we continue through the last few weeks of End Poverty Month, I encourage you to take time and have discussions with people about poverty in Calgary.
There is much work to do in identifying policy solutions that can help address the root causes of poverty. There is a way to have a just recovery in our city that includes everyone.
Read through Calgary’s poverty reduction strategy, Enough For All 2.0.