It’s taken for granted during the holiday season that we all have somewhere to belong: gathered among loved ones, enjoying a meal and each other’s company.
But not all of us have those connections. For some, this is a painfully lonely time of year.
Six out of 10 Canadians feel somewhat or much lonelier than before the pandemic (Canadian Connections Survey 2021). Without support and connections, health and well-being can suffer. Isolation and loneliness are widespread issues, but they’re also acute in certain groups of people.
Change starts here. United Way’s Hi Neighbour program—started in 2018 and funded directly through your gifts—eases the pain of isolation. It helps build safer, healthier, more inclusive and resilient communities here in BC.
Be here. For each other.
Togetherness is a gift: one that you make possible through your generous support.
United Way BC’s Hi Neighbour program creates and facilitates community connection. There are currently 18 Hi Neighbourhoods in BC, with 18 Community Builders and Specialists and more than 3,000 volunteers who are dedicated to creating vital connections in their local communities.
“We are like the bridge to connect people who live in the neighbourhood with all the things available to them.”
– Mary, United Way Community Builder
Mary and Friba’s Story
Mary and Friba were once newcomers who felt isolated after moving to Canada. They yearned for human connection and a sense of belonging within their community. “I was feeling invisible,” Mary said of her new home. Luckily, United Way BC’s Hi Neighbour Program was there. They both attended Hi Neighbour events in their local area and found each other: the social connection they were looking for.
Grateful for their newly formed friendship, Mary and Friba partnered with United Way BC to give the gift of togetherness to others by applying for Local Love grants and hosting Hi Neighbour events that create even more connections in their community. Having local champions on the ground in the neighbourhoods in which they live and work is a proven model of social engagement. Watch Mary and Friba’s inspiring story.
Give the gift of togetherness.
With your help, we can tackle loneliness and make more community connections happen. Your donation allows us to increase the number of Hi Neighbour events and Local Love grants offered to our neighbours, and expand these social supports into even more BC communities.
Be Here. For each other. Donate today. For tomorrow.
Loneliness is crushing
United Way is proud to invest in local communities across the province to ensure all of our fellow BC residents can connect and thrive.
Local love connects community
Prior to COVID-19, 46% of British Columbians said they sometimes felt lonely, according to a United Way study. As physical distancing to prevent pandemic spread to keep seniors safe, social isolation increased.
Recognizing the need to tackle social isolation and loneliness at the local level, United Way BC began embedding Hi Neighbour teams in the community three years ago. Hi Neighbour is designed to strengthen vital connections between community members through community projects, events, volunteerism and mutual aid.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the initiative proved invaluable for reaching our region’s most vulnerable citizens.
One connection leads to many
Mary and Friba applied for a Local Love grant through United Way BC so they could create a safe space for other newly arrived people to get together in their neighbourhood. What began as an afternoon gathering for tea and light snacks soon blossomed into a series of community events. Children, families, newcomers and seniors began making meaningful connections with each other.
In particular, women who attended the event shared their experiences of family life and arriving in Canada. The social event helped connect them with agencies that provide housing, language, and employment support, as well as counselling services.
Recovering from disaster
United Way BC’s Hi Neighbour initiative showcases the resilience of community spirit and the importance of connection – even during disaster, illness, and conflict.
United Way BC created the Emergent Response program at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic to support to communities and individuals with food and basic needs, childcare, mental health supports and counselling. As wildfires and floods impacted the province, and refugees began arriving from war-torn Ukraine, the program continued to connect vulnerable people with those who could help.
Seven new Hi Neighbour communities were added as part of our Emergent Response initiative. These communities are focused on recovery and rebuilding, which requires ongoing support.
Your support makes a difference
Be a catalyst for community togetherness
Your donation helps create friendships and support networks in your neighbourhood.