Advocate for Change

Not everyone has an equal opportunity to be heard. That is why we speak up about issues that our community’s most vulnerable residents are facing.

Homeless person's belongings (sleeping bag, shoes, blankets and bag) on the street next to a cardboard sign reading

Advocating for change is central to what we do. 

We consult with our partners and peers often. We gather information about local experiences of racism, poverty, food insecurity, and social isolation. Using those insights, we take steps to raise awareness and start important conversations.

Sometimes this looks like advocating quietly. For example: speaking directly with elected leaders, working on investments and policy changes, or pitching stories to journalists to raise awareness of important issues.

Sometimes we raise our voice a little louder. For example: launching campaigns, publishing blog posts, or collaborating with other organizations on bigger efforts that address a specific need.

Keep reading to discover a few specific examples of how we advocate for change.

Using social media to raise awareness about homelessness

In May 2020, while most of us were staying home to limit the spread of COVID-19, United Way Halifax launched a unique awareness campaign called No Home. 

The campaign featured staged scenes depicting homelessness in locations across HRM. Each scene included a “No Home” sticker—a play on the popular and recognizable “Stay Home” Instagram story sticker, which was used by hundreds of thousands of people at the time.

The purpose of our campaign was to highlight the reality that for some people, “staying home” is impossible. We promoted the campaign across social media platforms. It was featured in local media and supported with paid online advertisements.

No Home achieved significant reach (estimated at 3.8 million impressions) and inspired online donations. Most importantly, it got people thinking and talking about housing need in HRM, and how the pandemic has made experiencing homelessness even more difficult and dangerous.

Global News
CTV Atlantic News
Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Business Voice Article

Inspiring a community to work together to meet a basic human need

Period poverty is something many people never have to think about. But for some, it’s a monthly struggle. Women, children, transgender men, and non-binary people in our community are forced to choose between menstrual products and other necessities, like food, medicine, rent, or bus tickets.

The consequences can be significant. Without appropriate menstrual products, people may not be comfortable leaving home. As a result, they will miss valuable time at work or school. Or they may use makeshift substitutes like toilet paper, which can negatively impact their health.

One small and simple way to ease this hardship is to make menstrual products available in public washrooms, free of charge.

Tampon Tuesday is a nationwide effort to do just that. In HRM, it’s presented by United Way Halifax, NSGEU, and Halifax Public Libraries.

In 2019, we collected 51,000 menstrual products, and distributed them to 15 community organizations. We promoted Tampon Tuesday in the media, starting conversations and opening people’s eyes to this issue. 

The success didn’t end there. Tampon Tuesday helped inspire others to take action. For example:

  • Several independently-owned pharmacies made menstrual products free to anyone who expressed a need.
  • Halifax Public Libraries began providing free menstrual products in all library washrooms (both gender-specific and gender-neutral).
  • In February 2020, HRM Council voted to provide free menstrual products in all municipal facilities, such as community centres and arenas.

Check out our blog post about Sandra Mullen, the lead volunteer with NSGEU.