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Join Team Kendall Worth

Poverty Activist looking to bring business, poverty, communities together

by Kendall Worth

Kendall Worth is looking to bring the Halifax business and poverty communities together. But he needs some assistance. Maybe yours? [Photo: R. Devet]
Kendall Worth is looking to bring the Halifax business and poverty communities together. But he needs some assistance. Maybe yours? [Photo: R. Devet]

Regular readers, remember my last article titled “Hire Kendall Worth” where I had talked about creating my dream job as a poverty advocate? This article you are about to read provides a deeper insight into one part of what I dream will come with this paid position, if my dream were to happen. Let me start off by bringing up a few questions I sometimes ask myself:

Wouldn’t it be great if we could reduce and or break the poverty cycle in Halifax?

Wouldn’t be great if people living in poverty knew that there were business people out there who were interested in wanting to help them, and how these businesses could help them?

Wouldn’t it be great if there were focus groups hosted by the business community in which people living in poverty could attend, to talk about their experiences, their dreams about some day coming out of poverty, and the challenges they face?

Wouldn’t it be great if there were networking events where the business and poverty communities could come together?

The answers, my friends, are all yes.

Now, I know these are huge problems, but it is my belief that all of the above could happen with strategic planning, but only if both communities coming together. None of this can happen overnight and I cannot do this alone. This is why I would need a strategy group behind me.

I envision this group starting off by consisting of ten people, with the potential to eventually build that number. I would invite folks who are interested in wanting to help those living in poverty, as well as business people who care about people living in poverty, to initially make up this team. Perhaps employment counsellors from different organizations that help persons with disabilities, along with business services providers, could also be a part of my proposed group.

I see benefits to having both communities come together.

These include:

  • The business community can teach the poverty community what they have to offer. For example, many folks living in poverty have skills that could lead to a job. These meetings could lead to a business being interested in wanting to hire them.

  • The poverty community can teach the business community about their work related challenges.

  • Existing businesses can learn how to be more supportive of folks living with disabilities.

Now, bringing the two communities together isn't going to just solve the systemic problems that keeps the poverty cycle flowing. Not overnight anyways. But, I believe that the poverty community knows its own struggle, but doesn't have a strong voice. The business community has that voice, but doesn't know the problem first-hand.

When I visit the places where people in the poverty cycle congregate, many folks tell me that they're actually scared to get a job. They're on income assistance, which isn't enough to live on, but it is a guarantee. Employment isn't secure, so if there were some way towards guaranteeing that they wouldn't lose their income assistance, they might be more likely to seek out work.

Secondly, they don't want to leave this province. These are in many cases very talented people, but they are more attached to their family here than seeking work elsewhere. What keeps them from moving is stick family members who need them. Sometimes the family member who lives in poverty is also the primary caregiver of an older family member with medical problems.

I personally know one person who lives in poverty, who, if he wants a job in the field he is trained in, has to travel at least to Ontario. His mom who lives here in Halifax is sick and needs care.

I see a smaller focus groups also growing out of this. The work of the focus groups will concentrate on:

  • Researching work related skills which those living in poverty may have that could eventually get new employment started here in Halifax.

  • Researching ways we can get persons with disabilities more community oriented, along with identifying employment opportunities for them.

  • Researching types of political action that people living in poverty would like to take for advocating to get a better system through the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services.

So then what happens?

Well, after the big networking event is over and done with, the dream would be that people living in poverty would start moving forward. This does not mean people living in poverty will get jobs overnight. I hope that out of the work of the strategy group that has been created, a non-profit organization would get started.

The organization would continue to follow up with and support people living in poverty any way it can. Also, because of all the research that our groups will theoretically have done throughout the process, new employment opportunities to hire people could get started. The dream would be to continue to be to reduce poverty in Halifax.

I mean, people have the right to live where they want. This is the reason as to why solutions to reduce poverty have to created locally here in Halifax.

At present the only event we have here in Halifax that even comes to what I am proposing is called 'Halifax Connects'. This is an event that only takes place once a year.

At this event they do have free products and services. They include free haircuts, free footwear, free clothing, and a free meal. However the problem is that 'Halifax Connects' organizers dose not do follow up sessions with the people who once a year uses those services. My organization will do follow-up, as well as continued focus groups between networking events.

After all if anything can be created to get people living in poverty a better income to live on then that will lessen the burden on food banks and drop-ins.


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