“Vancouver can be a bit isolating…With a place like Family Place it creates that sense of community…that sense of knowing your neighbour,” parent participant.
Eastside Family Place is located just off of Commercial Drive in East Vancouver’s Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood, a historic community with strong ties to its Italian and working-class roots. Today, Grandview-Woodland is a diverse multicultural, residential and commercial community with The Drive – a hub of shops, cafes, restaurants and services – as the heart and centre of the ‘hood. The Drive area hosts many festivals and community events, such as Italian Days, Car-Free Day, Stone Soup, and wide variety of parades, rallies and protests. And when the FIFA World Cup of soccer is held, the streets are literally filled with cheering and dancing soccer fans, as long as their team is winning, that is.
Grandview-Woodland is a vibrant community, yes, but not without many challenges, particularly for families with young children. In January 2015, comparing the median household income to the median housing prices, Vancouver was ranked as the most expensive North American city to live in and the second most expensive in the world – Hong Kong ranked first (Demographica International Housing Affordability Survey). Once considered an affordable community, the cost of housing is changing the demographics of East Vancouver and creating financial hardship for many. Families with young children are often hit the hardest as they have the added financial burden of childcare or are single-income households.
As a result, Grandview-Woodland continues to be recognized as one of the poorest postal codes in Canada. The community is designated as inner-city with a high-percentage of vulnerable and at-risk families and high-percentages of Aboriginal, immigrant and refuge families. According to the 2014 Child Poverty Report Card, 1 in 10 children living in Metro Vancouver is living in poverty with the highest child poverty rate, 65.2%, recorded in the Downtown Eastside which borders Grandview-Woodland (First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition). Various childhood poverty research studies document the daily negative impacts and risk factors for later life outcomes: “As adults, children growing up in poverty tend to experience higher rates of unemployment, work in lower-paying jobs, experience poorer health, and are more likely to be arrested for crime,” (The Cost of Poverty in BC, Ivanova, 2011).
Eastside Family Place strives to address and alleviate childhood and family poverty through a variety of programs and supports. Our food security programs provide nutritional support and resources for healthy living. Our parenting programs and community connections provide tools and resources that enable and empower families. And as a longstanding, respected social service organization, we work proactively with government, agencies and other organizations in an effort to create positive changes and policies that improve conditions for families and young children.
Are you interested in helping children and families thrive in our community? We invite you to join our effort and to support our work. You can help make a difference! Mary Johnston, ESFP’s executive director, welcomes your inquires. Please contact her by phone or email.