How do you solve a problem like poverty in Halton? For a start, people should be more aware that it is indeed a huge issue.
That’s according to Brad Park, president and CEO of United Way Halton and Hamilton (UWHH).
“(It’s) a very affluent region. To some, recognizing that poverty even exists in Halton is a challenge,” said Park, noting that there are over 44,000 individuals who live below the poverty line in the region — 11,000 of them being children under the age of 14.
In a bid to provide ”a stronger, larger voice” around the issue, the agency announced early this month that it has joined forces with the Halton Poverty Roundtable (HPRT).
“It just made sense for us to look at what the organizations might look like if we amalgamate them,” he said, adding that HPRT has been sharing an office with UWHH free of rent since its inception about nine years ago.
With the unification, HPRT can tap into UWHH’s fundraising prowess to help raise more funds to support its programs, as well as the now-available marketing and communications resources — though the HPRT branding isn’t going anywhere.
June Cockwell, chair of HPRT, shared her excitement over the unification of the two organizations.
“The potential for this is amazing,” she said, hoping that the “much more efficient, effective, and sustainable” organization can better reveal the faces of poverty within Halton and help eliminate them.
As the one and only staff of HPRT in the past, Sarah Sabihuddin — now senior manager of community impact with UWHH — said she didn’t have much capacity and time to actually focus on everything that was critical in the community.
“Poverty is growing, the income gap is getting bigger, and there are more struggles in our community. A lot of my time was focused on maintaining an organizational structure,” Sabihuddin said.