The United Church in Meadowood

Outreach at UCiM

Jesus said, “I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of the least important among you, you refused to help me.”   Matthew 25

Loving our neighbour is the most important demand our faith makes of us.  The Outreach Committee provides leadership for education and action, which is integrated throughout the life of our congregation.

 

Scroll down to learn about some of our ongoing work.

Hope for Housing?

At UCIM, we have been focusing on the current crisis in housing, through a series of educational and advocacy events.

April 21, 2022 representatives of all three levels of government responded to our question, “Is there hope for housing?”.    (Download a poster here.)  While there are some efforts that we can applaud, the progress we need to alleviate poverty is slow coming.

 

To learn more about the situation and to listen to some critique of current government efforts scroll down.

 

To take action on the issue read the “Call to Action” below.

 

Kris Clemens, from End Homelessness Winnipeg, gave an overview of the depth and breadth of the current crisis.  Her 7 minute presentation is available here.

“The 2016 Canadian Census reported that Winnipeg had more than 35,000 households …in housing that is overcrowded, unaffordable or in need of major repair.”

-Kris Clemens, End Homelessness Winnipeg

Call to Action: Make your voice heard

The Manitoba government plans to release a homelessness strategy in the coming months. People who participated in the consultation process from all over the Province and across sectors called for the strategy to include a major expansion to social housing and increases to income benefits that keep up with inflation.

We will not end homelessness without housing or income to remain stably housed.

We can’t stop now. 

We invited Kirsten Bernas from The Right To Housing Coalition to respond to the presentations made by MLA Rochelle Squires, Minister with Responsibility for Housing, MP Terry Duguid and City Councillor/Deputy Mayor Markus Chambers at our Hope for Housing? forum.

Kirsten was interviewed by Outreach Committee member Erin Crawford.  View the video here.

“… politicians spoke of affordable housing, but that is different from social or public housing … we need rent geared to income, “affordable” housing is out of reach to low income people ….”

-Kirsten Bernas, Right to Housing Coalition

Please take action NOW to support ending homelessness:

  1. Contact the Minister of Families and your MLA and tell them you believe the homelessness strategy will fail unless it: 
    • Invests in 300 net new units of publicly owned rent-geared-to-income housing (social housing) annually for at least 5 years.

 

  • Increases the Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) basic needs benefit to raise the incomes of all Manitobans to at least 75% of the poverty line.

When you hear the term “affordable housing” used stop and ask,

“What do you mean by affordable?”

Affordable housing is a term that is often used but not often clearly defined.  For some, affordable means housing that is at or below average market rent for a neighbourhood.  That housing is still out of the reach of lower income people, including those on social assistance and those working for low wages.  Truly affordable housing is housing geared to income.  The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines affordable housing as shelter costs that equate to less than 30% of a household’s pre-tax income.  This kind of housing usually needs public subsidy.  Learn more here.

Important to our outreach is to work in partnership with other organizations. Contact us if you are interested in getting involved in our work.

The Outreach Committee has a mandate to  provide education, support congregational engagement and advocacy on issues, encourage financial support, and invite people to get involved in service opportunities.  Other groups in the congregation, including Youth, Men’s Group, United Church Women and Children’s Church,  also are active in social justice initiatives.

Some of the ways we are accomplish this include:

  • guest speakers and events (recently from End Homelessness Winnipeg)
  • study groups and programs (recently Hope for Housing? Ask our Politicians and Orange Shirt Day all ages program)
  • relationship building (recently youth walking with the Thunderbirdz northend patrol)
  • food collection and meal preparation and serving with partner organizations
  • financial campaigns (recently the choir did a video supporting Just A Warm Sleep shelter program)
  • ongoing focus in worship on the gospel imperative to love and serve our neighbours with justice
  • providing space in our building for community groups (among them Healthy Mom and Me, Scouts and Brownies)

Our partnership with 1JustCity is the primary way we are active with some of the most vulnerable people in our city. 1JustCity is a network of programs, including West End Drop-in, West Broadway Community Services, Oak Table and Just A Warm Sleep, with roots in The United Church of Canada extending back more that 100 years.

We support 1JustCity through an ongoing food collection for their emergency food bank, gifts to the West End Drop-in (formerly St. Matthews Maryland Community Ministry) Christmas Store, paying a portion of the salary for kitchen staff at West Broadway, serving occasional meals to 1JustCity guests,  volunteer efforts of individual Meadowood members and financial support throughout the year.

Through a matching donation drive at the end of 2021, we were able to send over $5000 to West Broadway Community Services, one of 1JustCity’s organizations.

Our congregation has a relationship with Teen Stop Jeunesse, a youth drop-in centre for youth from 8-18.  Our support includes provision of special meals for their clients, gift bags and toiletries and financial support.

Our seasonal “Mitten Tree” of winter gear is distributed to several local agencies and schools.

We host a full table at the “Welcome Home” dinner supporting the House of Peace, which proactively discourages human trafficking by supporting vulnerable women in our community.

The United Church in Meadowood is a certified Fair Trade Faith Community! We use fair trade coffee for our coffee hosting on Sunday mornings and at other events.