Post by Helena Zhu, Women Students Program Assistant, and Hannah Barath, Co-op Student Assistant at Access & Diversity
Finances can be tough especially around this time of the year. Student loans are running low and the seasonal break can be a stressful time for many. If you are looking for support there are a number of programs and services that might be a viable option for you here at UBC and in the Greater Vancouver Area (GVA).
If you find yourself in an emergency financial situation or faced with an unexpected expense, UBC has emergency funding that Canadian students can apply to. It will be counted as a university loan. You do not have to have student loans to be considered. International students can apply for funding in order to complete the current term or travel home in cases of family emergency. Unfortunately, long-term bursary funding is not available for international students, but you are encouraged to looking into funding in your own country. Should you wish to seek these options, you can contact your Enrolment Services Professional or make an appointment with an advisor.
Food Banks and Low-Cost Food
The Alma Mater Society has a Student Food Bank that provides emergency food relief to current UBC students. With a valid student ID, current students can receive up to one bag of groceries for individuals and two bags for families per visit, up to six visits per term. The AMS Food Bank also provides referrals to other Lower Mainland food banks. Note that the Food Bank is closed between December 17th 2014 and January 5th 2015.
There are many other food banks in the GVA. If you don’t know which location is closest to you, call the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society at 604.876.3601. At the bottom of the page on this website you can find a list of some of the other food banks in the Lower Mainland. You can also check out the regularly-updated schedule of places that offer free or low-cost meals, which is compiled by the City of Vancouver.
Fun family activities don’t have to be expensive. There are several holiday themed activities in Vancouver that are free and family-friendly!
On Friday, December 5th a big tree lighting ceremony is happening at Jack Poole Plaza from 5.30 to 7 pm. This free event will have live music and entertainment, but if you cannot make this date you can still see the trees until the first week of January. Another event to consider if you want to see Christmas lighting is the Trinity Street Christmas Light Festival. You can see the lights all through December (until 10 pm every day), but the recommended days to go are December 13th and 20th.
Many Christmas markets are expensive, but the fantasy-themed fair Imaginarius Fantasticus has free admission and entertainment for all ages. If you want to go, it’s at International Village Mall on December 6th and 7th between 12 and 6 pm. If you happen to be downtown on December 7th, also make sure to check out the Rogers Santa Clause Parade.
Lastly, you can skate for free at Robson Square if you have your own skates. If you don’t you can rent skates (including helmet) are available for $4.
Gifts, Clothing and Other Resources
Low income families in Vancouver can register with the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau between December 3rd and 19th. Gifts include toys, clothing and food vouchers. If you do not live in Vancouver the website also lists other Christmas Bureaus in the Lower Mainland.
New clothes are expensive, but there are alternatives. On the second floor of the Student Union Building at UBC there is a “free store”. There is a variety of clothing and other things available. Find it in SUB 245, where the AMS Resource Groups are located. Keep in mind that the SUB holiday hours may be different than during the academic year.
You can find a very thorough list of thrift shops in the Vancouver area and Lower Mainland (and many, many other resources) in the Single Mother’s Resource Guide made by Vancouver Status of Women. Also make sure to check out the Guide to Resources & Supports for Parents prepared by Single Parents on Campus. If you are looking for in-person support, consider the YWCA Single Mother’s Support Services or contacting your local community centre.