Forum Takes Action to Help Those in Poverty

By on September 21, 2015

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Forum Takes Action to Help Those in Poverty
September 21, 2015

In all of Canada, 86 families hold more wealth than the poorest 11.4 million Canadians combined.

In Langley City, 19.2 per cent of residents are classified as low income earners. In the Township of Langley, that number is 11.4 per cent.

People with lower incomes are more likely to have poor health, inadequate education or skills training, have trouble securing food and housing, and are more likely to be involved in drugs and crime.

These statistics represent real human lives and they are numbers the Langley Healthier Community Partnership (HCP) wants to see vastly improved.

On September 17, the HCP’s steering committee, made up of representatives from the City of Langley, the Township of Langley, Fraser Health Authority, Langley Division of Family Practice, and Stepping Stone Community Services Society, hosted a community action forum called Poverty to Prosperity. Stakeholders from local governments, community and health organizations, law enforcement, businesses, and the community at large were asked to work together to identify tangible ways of reducing poverty and strategies to improve the health of residents living in poverty in the Langleys.

“It is time to stop talking and take action,” said the Partnership’s Janet Burden, Executive Director of the Stepping Stone Community Services Society, who was impressed by what was accomplished during the forum. “It exceeded our expectations,” she said of the event, which attracted 60 people to Douglas Recreation Centre.

Guest speakers discussed current poverty issues for children and seniors in the Langleys and outlined what is being done in the neighbouring municipalities of Surrey and Abbotsford and throughout the province to reduce poverty.

Participants also reviewed journey maps, long sheets of paper that lined the walls and graphically captured the actual life experiences of people living in poverty in this community. The information was collected during interviews with children, seniors, families, and those with mental health issues who are struggling with poverty, as “a way of understanding what it is like walking in their shoes,” Burden said.

Forum participants then broke into groups to determine the barriers to prosperity that are being experienced in Langley. The seven barriers identified were the lack of a poverty reduction plan, lack of time and resources in bureaucracies, lack of life skills training and mentorship, the community not working together, a lack of a central resource hub, food and housing instability, and isolation.

“Everyone was committed and engaged: they rolled up their sleeves and worked,” said Kim Hilton, the City of Langley’s Director of Recreation, Culture, and Community Services.

The input collected and information gathered during the action forum will now go back to the Langley Healthier Community Partnership, which will determine the next steps to be taken.

“This event set the stage for looking at the problem in Langley, determining where barriers exist, and how we can address them at the local level,” said Township of Langley Community Recreation Manager Lesley Visser.

Visser said the HCP wants to take the lead in facilitating improvement, and that members of the community will be given the opportunity to get involved and help. However, a plan to reduce poverty and enhance health in the Langleys cannot be done without support from the provincial government.

The Langley Healthier Community Partnership was formed in 2009 by the Township of Langley, the City of Langley, Fraser Health, and other local, regional, and provincial agencies to better understand the health needs of the community and collectively strive to improve access to health care services.

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  1. Janet Burden, Executive Director of the Stepping Stone Community Services Society, with one of the journey maps used to share the life experiences of those living in poverty in Langley.
  2. Langley Healthier Community Partnership members and forum presenters (left to right): Kim Hilton, City of Langley’s Director of Recreation, Culture, and Community Services; Barb Stack, Langley Division of Family Practice; Camilla Boisvert, Fraser Health Authority; Ellen Peterson, Langley Division of Family Practice; Lesley Visser, Township of Langley Community Recreation Manager and Janet Burden, Executive Director of the Stepping Stone Community Services Society.

3 – 5.  Groups of participants discussing barriers to prosperity that can be addressed locally.



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