Times are tough for folks across the country — and that is impacting charities.
Each December, the Record puts together a Guide to Giving that lists some of the local charities that welcome your support — such as assisting people who are unhoused, helping seniors or youth, or contributing to the community through the arts — and ways you can help them do their good work in New West.
As part of the 2022 Guide to Giving, we checked in with some local organizations to see what challenges the organizations and their clients have faced in 2022.
“This year — across all programs — we’ve seen more families and individuals struggling to make ends meet,” said Maria Howard, CEO of Family Services of Greater Vancouver. “Food, housing, and safety are critical basic needs that must be fulfilled before Family Services can walk alongside people as they heal from trauma, overcome addiction, or improve their mental health. It’s hard to focus on the future when you’re constantly thinking about how you will pay rent or put food on the table for your family.”
Nipa Bhalla, resource development at the Seniors Services Society of B.C., echoed those concerns.
“The rising cost of living, especially housing, is our greatest challenge,” she said. “Seniors who are on low, fixed incomes struggle to pay rent and meet their nutritional, health and mental health needs.”
The Lower Mainland Purpose Society is telling a similar story — and doesn’t anticipate things getting any better in 2023.
“In 2022, we have seen housing becoming so scarce that it seems impossible for the average person to find housing they can afford,” said Lynda Fletcher-Gordon, acting executive director at the Purpose Society. “People who are on lower or fixed incomes are in an even worse position. The price of gas, inflation and rising bank rates have cut into the average person’s disposable income, and some families are finding it extremely difficult to meet all their daily needs.”
Sadly, Fletcher-Gordon doesn’t anticipate that situation to change in 2023.
“Unfortunately, there is no indication that this situation will change any time in the near future and some predictions are that it will carry on throughout 2023,” she said. “All of us who are part of the New Westminster community will be faced with the consequences of these dreary fiscal times and, hopefully, we will remain caring, compassionate and giving.”
Nicole Mucci, manager of media relations and communications for the Union Gospel Mission, said the UGM has seen the need for its services grow.
“We have continued to see a growing need for all of our services in 2022 from meals to people trying to access our emergency shelter or connecting with our women and families teams for emergency food hampers,” she said. “Record inflation, rising unemployment, low vacancies for affordable housing and the unpredictable weather are creating a perfect storm for more urgent need this holiday season.”
But the needs of community members and charities don’t end at Christmas.
“The holidays are a wonderful time for generosity and kindness to shine through – and we hope that if folks get involved during this season, they continue to stay involved throughout the year,” Mucci said. “Things can often be the most difficult for organizations that serve marginalized populations in January.”
Along with individuals, non-profits are faced with rising costs —and that’s affecting their ability to do everything they want for clients at Christmas.
“With the rising costs of goods and our growing need for a new and improved office/admissions building, Westminster House is struggling to go the extra mile this year in making our clients' Christmas a special one,” said Tressa Cooper, business development assistant at Westminster House Society. “By contributing toward our wishlist, you can help ensure their experience in treatment over the holidays is a warm and memorable one.”
The Guide to Giving lists some of the New Westminster-based non-profits that could use your support during the holidays and beyond. Cash donations, donated items and volunteers are some of the ways you can help. You can find it at www.royalcityrecord.com.
A recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute found that many people are cutting back on seasonal spending, with 56 per cent of Canadians reporting that they’ll be spending less on Christmas, including presents and entertaining.
While that decision is most prominent among those with lower income levels, where 61 per cent of people earning less than $50,000 annually say they are spending less on presents and decorating this year, it’s the same for higher income households as well. The survey found that 45 per cent of Canadians whose household incomes are above $200,000 say they’ll also be cutting back this year.
And that, said the Angus Reid Institute, means that struggling charities will likely be impacted. It referred to a report that found that 37 per cent of Canadians say they’ve scaled back charitable giving in recent months, including 41 per cent of people over the age of 54, an age group that has historically donated more.
In August, CanadaHelps.org released the fifth edition of The Giving Report, which highlights insights, trends, and challenges that Canadian charities are currently facing. Canada Helps is a non-profit and social enterprise that works to connect charities with donors.
According to the Angus Reid survey, 37 per cent of Canadians say they have scaled back and 50 per cent say they are financially worse off now than they were at this time last year.