Six United Ways in B.C. are now one.

The goal is to increase their impact in local communities on Central and Northern Vancouver Island, and in the Lower Mainland, Thompson Nicola Cariboo, Southern Interior, Trail and District, and East Kootenay.

By merging, they’ll share resources and expertise across six regions of the province. 

United Way says four regional councils will ensure donations are maximized at the local level and the chair of each council will sit on the Board of Directors.

The new organization will address key issues in local communities, through programs such as Better at Home, Healthy Aging, Youth Futures Education Fund, United Way Food Hubs and other programs.

The United Way Powell River & District will continue to operate as per normal and won’t be affected by the merger.

The new organization officially begins operations on July 1st. 

Work in communities is proceeding as normal, including delivery of the supports and programming undertaken in partnership with the provincial and federal governments.

“By coming together as one organization, we can help more people and make a bigger difference,” said Michael McKnight, CEO of the new organization. 

“We are excited to amalgamate as a single entity because we will be stronger together. This is the natural next step for us and will help ensure strong, healthy and caring communities.”

“Together we are committed to maintaining local programs and staff in all of our communities,” said Dot Neary, Board Chair, United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island. 

“Donors want to see tangible outcomes at the local level. That’s why dollars raised locally will stay local.”

According to a recent United Way survey, now more than ever, communities in B.C. need help to address critical social issues. 

United Way says the survey of 234 social service agency professionals in B.C. sheds light on the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19 “and highlights the need for stronger collaboration within the not-for-profit sector.”

Three quarters of the agencies surveyed in April 2021 say the pandemic has challenged their ability to carry out their work. 

The biggest impact has been increased needs and requests for support, with 89 percent of respondents reporting a rise in demand for services.

April 2021 Survey Data

When asked about impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • 89 percent of social service agencies reported a rise in demand for services
  • 61 percent have experienced staffing challenges such as employee retention, recruitment and engagement
  • 53 percent have experienced a decrease in donations
  • 41 percent have experienced volunteer shortages

Survey respondents were asked to identify their top three priorities among seven key social issues faced by communities in B.C.:

Mental health was cited by 54 percent of respondents, followed by:

  • children and youth – 52 percent
  • poverty – 45 percent
  • homelessness and housing – 42 percent
  • food security – 32 percent
  • support for seniors – 32 percent
  • social isolation – 21 percent

The online survey was conducted by United Way, with a total of 234 social service agency representatives responding from communities across British Columbia.