by Carissa Tham November 10, 2015

This week, we’re focussing on the topic of homelessness, the cause behind our brand of the week, Sackcloth & Ashes and how you can make a difference through Benefair.

The stigma surrounding the issue of homelessness has come a long way in recent years—from the belief that the homeless are “lazy” to the more informed view that homelessness is a social issue where there are systematic forces at play to prevent individuals from having access to affordable housing. Locally, there are various organizations, not-for-profits and campaigns that work together to fight homelessness such as Homeward Trust, Find, and the most recent 20k Homes. Within university communities, there are various student groups like 5 Days for the Homeless, where thousands of Canadian university students partake in an annual campaign in which they sleep outside for 5 days, with no technology, no food unless donated to them, no money—to raise awareness and monetary support for a local youth homeless shelter.

Despite all this, homelessness remains a somewhat elusive social issue to the average citizen, where the word “homeless” brings to mind people in impoverished nations. Shayna Lawrie, a participant in 5 Days of the Homeless encapsulates the problem of homelessness perfectly when she says “When you think homelessness and poverty, I used to think mainly of youth in undeveloped countries. I honestly never really thought about poverty among young people in my own home.”

In Edmonton, 2,174 homeless were counted in 2012. The above figure, created by Homeward Trust, reflects the number of homelessness by count date.

The figure above, also created by Homeward Trust, reflects the age demographics of homelessness in Edmonton. In summary, homelessness in Edmonton is a severe issue (as it is anywhere else) that requires various communities in Edmonton to work together to help eliminate homelessness. While homelessness is a sobering issue that seems too large for an individual person to tackle and one may think, “What can I do to make a difference and help the homeless?” Benefair’s partnership with Sackcloth & Ashes works to tackle this very question.

At Benefair, our social mission is to create opportunities for youth in our city, with a focus on providing funding and scholarships for university students to initiate their own social impacts. We are bringing our own Benefair social mission together with that of Sackcloth & Ashes. For every Sackcloth & Ashes blanket purchased, a much-needed fleece blanket is donated to a local homeless shelter. By purchasing your blanket through Benefair, a blanket will be donated to the Youth Empowerment & Support Services (YESS) organization in Edmonton, Alberta.

To find out more about our brand of the week Sackcloth & Ashes, look forward to our blog post this Thursday!





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Carissa Tham
Carissa Tham


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