Canindia News

United Way partners with Peel Region NGOs on anti-poverty initiatives

Pradip Rodrigues

Poverty in Peel Region is often overlooked as it isn’t as visible as it is in Toronto or other big cities. And yet according to the 2016 census, 12.8 per cent of Peel’s residents and 18.1 per cent of children and youth live in poverty, those figures have most definitely inched upward since then.

This is one of the primary reasons why United Way (UW) is focusing so much attention in the Peel Region and has partnered with eight anchor agencies to implement its community investment strategy across Peel, Toronto and York.

Two grant streams have been launched in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. United Way’s Anchor and Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy grants represent a $2-million investment aimed at tackling the growing issue of poverty in Peel Region.

These eight Peel Anchor agencies which includes Indus Community Services, Punjabi Community Health Services and Malton Neighbourhood Services will receive enhanced general operating support over the next three years to help them give people opportunities to thrive.

In an interview with CanIndia News, Gurpreet S. Malhotra, CEO of Indus Community Services said that the grant from UW will help strengthen his organization’s ability to make system-wide improvements to its many services, like the Newcomer Services, the Seniors Wellness Program and the Child, Youth & Parenting (CYP) Program.

“Our communities need more culturally responsive high- quality services to support our families,” he added.

Helping newcomers and refugees settle in is often key to ensuring they don’t slip into poverty. The wide range of programs offered by Indus Community Services and other anchors offers a comprehensive list of programs and services all designed to address the issues of poverty and homelessness in region.

According to Jyoti Shukla, Manager, Community Investments at United Way, the funding model employed and the idea behind partnering with reputed anchors fulfils two main objectives- addressing the root causes of poverty and homelessness and also providing the anchors with an opportunity to connect and collaborate with each other.

“The idea is to bring a common voice to the table, fill in gaps in services and communicate new trends and issues they encounter. This sort of valuable research is really important as helps drive public policy,” she added.

United Way is also expanding its Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy to Peel Region, with three new initiatives to help residents create the change they want to see in Malton, Cooksville, and Brampton.

For example, the Cooksville Community Development is being overseen by Indus Community Services. This area will soon have new transit infrastructure and the project will develop a local network to build a social infrastructure strategy that will help shape the area’s future.

The problem of poverty in Peel Region and across the GTA is exacerbated by the high cost of housing and the number of working poor is growing as a result. There are also over 60,000 food insecure households in the region and that number is growing.

With a large and growing number of new immigrants and refugees drawn to cities like Brampton and Mississauga, the programs and initiatives spearheaded by these eight anchor agencies will address the needs of the most vulnerable among us. -CINEWS

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