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Kendall Worth on mental health and isolation. For people living in poverty there is next to nothing

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – When the drop-ins and soup kitchens are closed in the evenings and on weekends and holidays, what real safe and affordable options for socialization are available in Halifax/Dartmouth for people who are lonely and need some social contact and maybe somebody to talk to?

For people living in poverty, next to nothing!

Yes, there is of course the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team (902-429-8167 or 1-888-429-8167).

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Kendall Worth

A lot of people tell me that they end up calling them because having no avenue of socialization in their lives when drop-ins and soup kitchens are closed really depresses them.

In Halifax there are lots of opportunities to socialize that people from a middle and upper class background take for granted.

This article explains why for people living in poverty things are very different.

Forget about going for coffee or a movie

A lot of people who like to hang out at drop-ins cannot afford to meet friends for coffee at a coffee shop or for any type of drinks anywhere. People tell me that spending as little as two or three bucks at places like Tim Hortons, McDonald’s, or any coffee shop even where coffee is cheap is too much for a person who lives in poverty.

They complain that even spending that little takes two or three bucks out of their food budget, even that little is too much to them to pay. This is why people who live in poverty feel that meeting their friends is completely out of the question.

They also tell me that going out to see a movie is too much for them because the adult admission at Cineplex theatre is $10.99. Again – too much for poor people to pay out of their pockets.

Church isn’t for everybody

Many, if not most of these people do not have family or friends who they can get together with or go to visit on weekends. As a result people living in poverty end up spending all weekend and holidays sitting alone in their apartments, with no social contacts to talk to.

Another way of getting out of the house, socializing, and meeting people is to attend church somewhere on Sunday. The problem with that is not all persons are interested in wanting to attend church.

Bar scene too expensive and full of dangers

One thing people tell me is that they are interested in the downtown bar scene and how they cannot afford to do that on weekends. They say that they would love to go out and see bands play and have a good time.  

Yes, this is a something that middle and upper class and even university students take for granted. Bars are not affordable for people living in poverty. After all, many bars charge a cover charge, plus you have to buy something to drink (even if it is pop or coffee/tea).

Also bars tends close after buses stop running. Taxis are expensive and most people living in poverty cannot afford to live downtown or within walking distance from where bars are located.   

But the bar scene can also be a dangerous way to socialize and meet people.

People you meet at bars are not always considered great quality people. Also, when people go to bars, they are tempted to drink alcohol. I would not recommend this for those who cannot drink alcohol because of medications they are on. Some people are also recovering alcoholics. These people should not be around alcohol.

All this reinforces the business case for a 24/7 drop in centre, as I wrote in an earlier article.

Please support the Nova Scotia Advocate so that it can continue to cover first voice perspectives such as Kendall’s. We tackle issues such as poverty, racism, exclusion, workers’ rights and the environment in Nova Scotia. 

4 Comments

  1. Great article and reason why making a telephone a part of the income assistance budget rather than a “special need” makes common sense

    Reply
    1. What if a person needs to call 911 for example, they have no phone. A phone is a lifeline to other people. Its simply ridiculous for people living in poverty not to be able to have a phone. Makes me feel like we have been discarded with the trash.

      Reply
  2. I am the main support for a family member who has a mental disability. He lives in isolation much of the time. It’s very sad. I’m not young and I would like to see him have more supports. A phone is so important and he should not have to get a doctors note every year.

    Reply

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