On Thursday, September 11 United Way brought in facilitators from the United Way of the Alberta Capital Region in Edmonton, Alberta to host two Poverty Simulations in Kamloops. To see the Poverty Simulation in action, click here to watch the story on CFJC TV News.

Erin McGregor, who works at the Royal Bank of Canada, wrote the following blog post about her experience participating in the Poverty Simulation:


I had the opportunity (both memorable and humbling) to work with some other volunteers today at the United Way Poverty Simulation. To say that is was an eye-opener would be an understatement. It was such a professional, organized and valuable presentation about the very real experiences that so many people in BC face when it comes to living in a low income environment. When Simon and I entered the doors of Interior Savings Centre earlier today, we were greeted by two women that presented each of us with nametags, ages, and placed us into simulated families. From the pre-simulation discussion, it seemed we all had two things in common: 1) we were unaware of what our poverty simulation package contained, and 2) we were unaware of what this 1 hour presentation would teach us about the challenges of living on such a tight budget. Sure we were low income, but we what we didn’t expect were the real-life, unforeseen circumstances, such as: loss of employment, illness, and emergency expenses we would be faced with. These curve balls were thrown into the mix to help us understand what 1 in 5 Canadians face every day – poverty. We were asked not to treat it like a game, but to really put ourselves out there, and act the role.

At the end of the simulation, my “family” made it through paying our mortgage, buying enough food *just enough* to live on, utilities were paid, and our loans were up to date. However, we had to borrow, pawn items, trade transportation for food, and often, we went without any extras.

When we were asked to reflect on how we felt about it in the end – I was speechless. In 1 hour, I was brought to tears envisioning how hard it must be to do this for real. I reflected on how this will change what I do going forward.

I will continue to donate to the United Way when they have their campaign (which is coming up),and I have committed to taking my 4 year old son on the Christmas Hamper Drive and donating to the food bank, so he too can gain perspective on what he has in his own life: perhaps wanting less and appreciating more. It was a wonderful experience, and I was fortunate to be a part of it! #KAMPOVSIM

Poverty Simulation - Erin RBC

Thanks also to Simon Boscariol

[not pictured here, as he had his own “family”] for participating – feel free to share your thoughts about the Simulation!