A recent bike workshop in Richmond shone a light on the fact seniors are struggling to make ends meet.
Of the 10 people who showed up to have their bikes serviced at St. Albans Anglican Church on a recent Friday, seven were men over the age of 60, noted De Whalen, chair of the Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition (RPRC).
These men, all Asian, use their bikes for transportation – not recreation, Whalen said, for example, to pick up groceries and go to services.
Not only are seniors needing help with transportation, the number of seniors staying at the homeless shelter and those in contact with outreach workers is increasing, Whalen explained.
“This trend was noted in the 2020 Metro Homeless Count and we anticipate seniors numbers will be up in the March 2023 Count,” she added.
The Richmond Food Bank has also reported more seniors accessing their food services.
The bike workshop was part of Homelessness Action Week, something proclaimed by Richmond City Council “in support of the City’s continuing efforts to reduce and eliminate homelessness in Richmond,” Whalen explained.
Our Community Bikes, a bike co-op from Vancouver, serviced the bikes for the 10 people who came. There were also five volunteers from Richmond Homeless Connect (RHC) helping out, which resulted in “lots of collaborations, lots of community help,” Whalen noted.
The bike repair workshop was followed by a luncheon, one of many held every week for people struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table in Richmond.
The annual Homelessness Action Week raises money to help RHC help those who don’t have homes or those at-risk of homelessness. Donations allow the organization to buy rainwear, underclothing, socks, gloves and hygiene items that they give out throughout the year.
Faith groups feed vulnerable Richmondites
Every week, various churches and faith groups along with the food bank give out 4,400 free meals to Richmond residents – the faith communities alone put on six community meals a week.
The agencies and faith groups are St. Albans, Church on 5, Richmond Presbyterian, St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, Gilmore Park United, Kehila Society of Richmond, Richmond Food Bank and RPRC.
“Without the volunteer work of the faith communities and the food bank, Richmond families and individuals would be going hungry,” Whalen stated.