It is difficult to escape poverty without targeted strategies and supports. Many families and individuals living in low income face real challenges in meeting basic day to day needs.

Access to affordable child care, education and other opportunities can make a real difference in helping families and individuals to overcome the challenges of poverty and low income. Place-based strategies that focus on providing supports to those who are most vulnerable can help to not only address gaps in the social safety net but also to provide low income families and individuals with the kind of stability and support that they need to move forward in their lives.

See Support Fact Sheet based on 2011 Census data.

Key facts

  • Local schools, churches, community centres, recreation centres and libraries all represent an important part of the social infrastructure in communities and play an important role in promoting and supporting the well-being of families and individuals.
  • On average, fewer Surrey residents have college or university degrees than in the region as whole. In Surrey, 49% of residents have some post-secondary education (college or higher), as compared to 60% in Metro Vancouver.
  • Services provided through the non-profit sector as well as targeted strategies across all levels of government can be part of the solution by responding to gaps in the social safety net and helping vulnerable families and individuals access the services and supports that they need in the community.
  • Place-based strategies that build upon assets and resources at the neighbourhood level and target resources and services to those in the greatest need also play an important role in helping to lift low income families and individuals out of poverty.

Current initiatives

Below are some examples of initiatives underway:

  • In 2011, the City of Surrey opened a 77,000 square foot library in City Centre, which provides a variety of literacy services, employment programs, and family programs.18
  • Surrey Libraries publish a series of brochures listing low-cost and free services and programs.
  • Strong Start BC early learning programs, sponsored by the provincial Ministry of Education, provide free school-based early learning services for adults and their young children, aged birth to five.19 Twenty-four elementary schools in Surrey have Strong Start programs.
  • The First Steps Early Childhood Development Settlement Program, provided by OPTIONS Community Services in collaboration with DIVERSEcity Community Resource Society, and Umoja African Family Services, provides an ECD focussed settlement and developmental support program for young refugee children ages 0-6 years old. This program is offered in both the Whalley and Newton areas.20
  • Surrey’s Community Schools Partnership, starting with just three schools in 2007, now supports more than 25 schools in identifying specific needs of the children and families, and bringing together community resources to meet those needs.
  • As a Welcoming and Inclusive Communities project,21 the Surrey Food Bank in partnership with DIVERSECity’s Community Kitchen22 held workshops with newcomers on how to use Canadian foods typically found in Food Bank hampers to cook culturally familiar, healthy meals.
  • The City of Surrey’s Parks and Recreation Department’s Leisure Access Program enables low income residents to participate in Parks, Recreation and Culture activities at no cost or reduced cost.23
  • Sources, located in the Newton area, advocates welfare, mental health, and housing issues with all levels of government. It also provides a pro-bono legal clinic and free tax clinic services for low income residents. 24

18 Surrey (City of). 2012. Plan for the Social Well-Being of Surrey Residents. 2011 Annual Report.
19 British Columbia Provincial Government Ministry of Education. 2012. StrongStart BC.
20 OPTIONS Community Services. 2012. First Steps ECD Settlement Program.
21 Surrey WIC (Welcoming & Inclusive Communities) Project. Demonstration Projects.
22 Diversecity Community Resources Society. Food Security Programs.
23 Surrey (City of). 2012. Leisure Access Program.
24 Sources BC 2015 Advocacy Programs