Learn about initiatives to reduce poverty in Surrey.
Poverty in Surrey
Poverty negatively affects health, well-being, and quality of life in strong, resilient communities. According to the 2021 Census, approximately 50,000 people in Surrey are living in low income. Of these, 12,250 are children and youth.
All people have a human right to live free of poverty, with dignity and the ability to fully participate in society. Rates of poverty are linked to social inequities and some groups are more likely to experience poverty than others.
Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition
The Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition (SPRC) is a multi-sectoral, non-partisan coalition of representatives from a range of organizations and government agencies in Surrey. The SPRC formed in 2012 and the coalition's mission is to facilitate collective action on eliminating poverty and inspire systemic change in Surrey. The City of Surrey is an active member of the SPRC.
Surrey Poverty Reduction Plan
The City of Surrey received funding from the Union of BC Municipalities to work with the SPRC in 2020-2021 to update Surrey’s Poverty Reduction Plan and identify current priorities for collaborative action by the SPRC.
The Plan, Coming Together: A Collaborative Approach to Ending Poverty in Surrey, identifies the SPRC's four action areas: Speak Out, Plan and Pilot, Research, and Convene.
Improving People with Disabilities' Access to Income Supports
At the December 2022 SPRC Community Forum, participants raised concerns and identified the challenges that individuals with disabilities who are experiencing homelessness and/or mental health issues face when trying to apply for disability benefits.
In June 2023, the SPRC secured a Poverty Reduction Action Grant from the Union of BC Municipalities to develop tools and create opportunities for people with disabilities who are not accessing disability benefits. The goals of the project are to raise awareness, address misunderstandings through education, and to make connections between people who have disabilities and doctors and nurse practitioners.
The SPRC retained LevelUp Planning Collaborative and REACH-Cities to create a series of poverty fact sheets using Census data. The fact sheets explore eight themes: Poverty, Poverty Among Children and Youth, Housing, Transportation and Housing Burden for Renters, Education and Poverty, Racialized Individuals, Newcomers, and Indigenous Peoples.
According to the information offered in these fact sheets, it appears that poverty in Surrey is decreasing over time, which is encouraging. However, the data has some important limitations and only represent part of the story of poverty in Surrey.
Connecting Community is an initiative of the SPRC that is engaging the Surrey community to do a radical rethinking of the ways in which youth are supported when they transition from government care, at age 19, into adulthood.
Phase 1: Between 2016 - 2020, the SPRC facilitated a number of initiatives to support our incredible young people from Surrey as outlined in the Final Report: Connecting Community to Surrey Youth Aging out of Care (2020).
The following reports document the projects, outcomes, and impacts from the first three years of the Connecting Community initiative:
- Building Community Report (2019)
- Youth Leadership Report (2019)
- Connecting Community Prototypes Report (2019)
- Youth in Care Housing Survey Report (2019)
Phase 2: Between 2021 - 2022, the SPRC implemented two pilot projects, building on the lessons learned in Phase 1:
- Fundementors Pilot Project was a response to increased risk of poverty and social isolation that young people experience once they exit the government care system. The SPRC developed an online platform where youth could connect with healthy, unpaid adults to access support, guidance and advice on all things ‘adulting’ and develop informal social networks with peers and mentors.
- The Fireside Youth Leadership Development Pilot Program was a virtual 6-month program for youth ages 18-30 with care experience. Participants completed 5 modules of activities with the objective to empower participants in identifying as independents and community leaders.
Phase 3: In January 2023, the McCreary Centre Society prepared an Experiences of Local Youth in and from Government Care Report and accompanying Fact Sheet. This work provides an updated picture of the experiences of Surrey youth transitioning out of care, highlighting how the situations of youth in and from government care in Surrey have changed in Surrey since 2016. The report also provides a comparison of youth aging out of care to youth without care experience.
Envision Financial’s Community Leaders Igniting Change is a partnership between the SPRC, SFU and the Beedie School of Business. Grass-roots leaders in neighbourhoods throughout Surrey build their capacity to create change by participating in a weekly leadership program.
Surrey Libraries has also created Low Cost and Free brochures. The brochures are in high demand – 15,000 of the print brochures are given out every year. The brochures address the recommendations of the Poverty Reduction Plan to increase access to information regarding low cost and free services in Surrey.
- Application to the UBCM Poverty Reduction Action Grant March 2, 2023
- Application to the UBCM Poverty Reduction Planning Grant February 18, 2020
- Examining Poverty in Surrey: A Series of Fact Sheets
- Experiences of Local Youth in and from Government Care
- Fact Sheet: Experiences of Local Youth with Government Care Experience
- Surrey Poverty Reduction Plan: Coming Together: A Collaborative Approach to Ending Poverty in Surrey
- Final Report: Connecting Community to Surrey Youth Aging Out of Care (2019)
- 2016 Research Report: Youth Aging Out of Care in Surrey Report
- 2016 Youth Aging Out of Care in Surrey Fact Sheet