United Way launches London for All recommendations, insights

Last week, I was part of a small delegation presenting the London for All Impact Assessment Report to the Community and Protective Services Committee at City Hall, United Way’s final task in our three-year journey as lead agency for our city’s roadmap to end poverty in a generation.

Continuing the work to end poverty in our city couldn’t be more important. Poverty, hunger, mental illness and social isolation–the social challenges that have always existed in our community–have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

As lead agency for London for All, United Way convened over 60 organizations and 160 volunteers from all corners of the community to complete 112 anti-poverty recommendations over three years. We wrapped up this summer with 92 completed projects, everything from simple, practical solutions to system-wide changes.

The Impact Assessment Report is where the impact and the scope of the project comes to life by attempting to answer the question: Has London changed as a result of London for All?

“Coordinating, collaborating and bringing diverse voices to the table are essential skills we’re going to need as we work through the challenges ahead. We know some populations are disproportionately impacted by poverty so having their voice at the table is more important than ever.”

Kelly Ziegner, President & CEO United Way Elgin Middlesex

I’m proud to say yes. United Way staffer and London for All project manager Roxanne Riddell tells me that the project’s collective impact approach changed how we work as a community. Organizations and key players made connections where before there were walls. Multiple times, they found instant solutions because the right people were at the table–those who understood the issues and those who could ok the solutions.

United Way’s top recommendation is that City Hall continues to fund a collective impact approach to poverty reduction. London for All proved that it’s the best way forward.

Another key recommendation from United Way is to strengthen and increase opportunities for individuals with lived and/or living experience to participate in future poverty reduction work. London for All included and supported 38 people, making up 50% of the Leadership Table.

What does this mean for reducing poverty in our community? Marci Allen-Easton, a Community Member on the Leadership Table, says it best. She told me that her experience was totally different from other projects where she’s felt like a token participant. With London for All, she was a decision-maker. Her voice was necessary, not just complementary. For the first time, she says she felt included and heard, an integral part of making solutions happen.

Coordinating, collaborating and bringing diverse voices to the table are essential skills we’re going to need as we work through the challenges ahead. We know some populations are disproportionately impacted by poverty so having their voice at the table is more important than ever.

Next steps for London’s poverty reduction strategy are up to the City of London, our other government partners and organizational leaders in our community. We’re hoping they’ll take our recommendation to identify a single issue aligned with local, provincial and national poverty goals and to keep working on it until significant impact is achieved.

The work to solve poverty here at home, whether that’s London, St. Thomas or Strathroy, belongs to all of us. United Way will be there to work with governments, with the social services sector, and most of all, with you.

Together, more than ever, our community is counting on us.

Thank you for improving lives locally,

 

 

 

Kelly Ziegner, President & CEO
United Way Elgin Middlesex

P.SWe’re up for an award! London for All lead agency United Way Elgin Middlesex, along with partners City of London, London Community Foundation, London Poverty Research Centre and rTraction, is a finalist in the Community Collaboration category for the 2020 Pillar Community Innovation Awards happening on November 19

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