Communities across B.C. bring ideas to the table to fight social isolation
The On The Table event connected people around the province to discuss issues in their own communities
Potlucks, coffee dates and pizza parties were held all over the province Thursday to address the growing feelings of isolation and loneliness in B.C. communities.
A 2017 report by the Vancouver Foundation shows that isolation and loneliness are among the top concerns for residents of Metro Vancouver, and this year the foundation turned to the community for ideas on how to change that.
The foundation, founded in 1943, distributes millions each year to community projects and programs, as well as registered charities in partnership with its donors.
The On The Table initiative encouraged people to gather and talk about the issues most relevant in their day-to-day lives — and share some food.
"Somehow when you bring people together over food… I find it brings the best out of people and they are more relaxed than when you're meeting in a more formal environment," said Mohamed Ehab, co-founder of Changemakers Vancouver who immigrated to Canada from Egypt in 2008.
He had no friends or family waiting for him in Vancouver, so he said he put in the effort to find a community by hosting potlucks and movie nights at his home.
"It did magic for me... it can help build social connections, especially for newcomers."
Thanks Jane from <a href="https://twitter.com/causeaffect?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@causeaffect</a> for hosting an <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/onthetablebc?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#onthetablebc</a> with other women to discuss cross sector collaboration, with jam and sourdough to boot! <a href="https://t.co/7FQs7j6m5a">pic.twitter.com/7FQs7j6m5a</a>—@digmydiaspora
The survey found that a large number of people who reported feeling lonely were between the ages of 18-24, which was surprising to Vancouver Foundation president and CEO, Kevin McCourt.
He said the demographic they often focus on when discussing isolation is seniors and this new information made McCourt rethink how to approach the issue.
"We found that often people are looking for a spark, something to trigger that action, and when On The Table comes along they have this framework to … get together with our neighbours, with our coworkers, with our peers," he said.
Flatbread, Fizzies, & Public Health! Thanks Laura Finkler for hosting a great event as part of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/onthetablebc?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#onthetablebc</a> initiative. <a href="https://twitter.com/VancouverFdn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@VancouverFdn</a> <a href="https://t.co/O5TaZ7R15p">pic.twitter.com/O5TaZ7R15p</a>—@kahosford
McCourt said they had 350 hosts registered with an estimated 4,000 people participating overall in events held across the province Thursday.
The topics discussed at each event will be collected and shared with the public to provide a snapshot of what issues residents in B.C. feel are most important in their community.
"We know one meal isn't going to solve loneliness, but the ideas we pick up, the ideas people share with us, those are the ones we're keen on," McCourt said.
To hear the full interview listen to media below: