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National Leasing employees take part in discussion following poverty simulation

National Leasing hosts eye-opening poverty simulation

Janet Seniuk

By: , Public Relations Coordinator

It may be impossible to truly walk in someone else’s shoes, but United Way of Winnipeg has created an experience to help demonstrate the day-to-day struggles for someone living in poverty.

Living on the Edge: Taking a look at Poverty puts participants into different life scenarios where they must go about daily tasks and meet obligations with very little money and resources – a simulation of what it’s like to live in poverty.

United Way of Winnipeg (UWW) came to National Leasing on April 21 to share this experience, and employees from a number of different organizations participated. David Unruh, Account Manager, National Leasing, says the experience was eye-opening.

“In my simulation I acted as a single mom trying to hold a job,” David says. “I quickly found myself unable to keep up with rent payments and grocery costs. I allocated the minimal resources I had to childcare, bus rides to work, and utilities.”
 

Participants take part in United Way Poverty Simulation at National Leasing head office
 

Living on the Edge organizers split participants into families of different sizes and gave each one a scenario with challenges such as a child facing medical problems, low incomes, inadequate transportation, and unemployment. Participants had to fulfil daily obligations at stations set up around the room such as going to work or school, picking up groceries and prescriptions, and making mortgage payments.

The two-hour simulation represented one month of living in poverty. Many participants faced additional challenges throughout, such as losing a job or being evicted.

Following the simulation, Heather Block, Director of Strategic Initiatives, UWW, led a group discussion about the experience.

“The chaotic environments of living in poverty make things that seem simple – like getting to work on time or depositing a cheque – very difficult,” says Heather.


Heather Block addresses participants
 

Participants say the simulation was frustrating, stressful, and chaotic. The experience shed light on the vicious circle of poverty and the extreme difficulty of breaking through it.

“What I love about this exercise is it’s not about head knowledge – you can go to the Internet for that,” Heather says, “It’s about getting that sense of what it might be like to live in poverty.”

While Living on the Edge is merely a simulation for its participants, it’s a reality for the 73,000 Winnipeggers struggling with poverty.

“Building an understanding of what it’s like to live in poverty is important for developing long-lasting solutions,” says Grant Shaw, Vice President of Strategy and Culture, National Leasing. “We believe that building this knowledge through Living on the Edge can influence a positive change, and as a business in this city, it’s our responsibility to contribute to initiatives like this one.”

UWW’s programs and initiatives provide fundamental support to those in need and strengthen our community. National Leasing is committed to supporting UWW through its annual United Way Week. During this event, employees hold fundraising events and make donations, and the company matches each gift dollar for dollar. Last year, National Leasing’s donation to UWW was nearly $288,000.

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