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Kendall Worth on poverty and the challenges of the Easter weekend

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – As I am writing this article, Easter 2018 is getting closer.  Within this past week I have been talking about Easter with people in the community who live in poverty. They told me that they are not looking forward to the four days of the Easter weekend. 

“Kendall, it is all about the fact that we have four days straight that our affordable means of getting out in the community and socializing with people is not going to be available to us,” they say.

“At Easter time we do not get the same invitations to go to family or friends we have in the community who are middle and upper class people as we do at Christmas time,” they also say.

“Furthermore Kendall, as you know, to us as poor people the drop-ins and soup kitchens is not only where we get free meals and other services. These places are our affordable means of being out in our community, socializing with people. These places being closed over Easter increases our level of depression and anxiety over that four-day weekend. Some of us try to sleep those four days away with only getting up to use the washroom and to stretch our legs from time to time,” I am told.

Two stories I have written before may help in understanding what people on income assistance are up against.  

This first one, Kendall Worth on mental health and isolation: for people living in poverty there is next to nothing, gives many examples as to how a person with money to throw away can spend Easter Saturday when the stores are open. However, things being open on Easter Saturday does nothing for us as people living in poverty.

Believe me, a whole bunch of people living in poverty would sure be using this 24/7 drop-in on Easter weekend if it already existed.

The next one, Kendall Worth: We really need a 24/7 drop in centre to tackle problems of social isolation, offers a solution. “We wish it already existed because it would sure make a good support for us as people living in poverty over the Easter weekend.  Believe me, a whole bunch of people living in poverty would sure be using this 24/7 drop-in on Easter weekend if it already existed,” I am told by these contacts.

So anyway, as part of researching this article I also talked to a couple of middle class contacts I have. The middle class people I talked to mentioned that Easter weekend being the most lonely for people living in poverty does not come as a surprise. Here is why.

For one thing, some of the better off people who are regular church goers may have extra involvement with their churches over Easter weekend. Some religions hold church services three or four time over the Easter weekend. These people don’t have time to invite their friends living in poverty over to their homes.

Some of the better off class who normally invite people living living in poverty over to their homes at Christmas may well own summer cottages. They might use Easter weekend to make that trip out to the country to open up the cottage on the Easter weekend.

And many of the better off families have kids who are involved in sports. Easter is usually that time of year when playoffs and tournaments for sports teams take place.   

Here is the story of one person who lives in poverty who is able to visit his cousins place some years at Easter and not on other years. This year for example is a year he cannot go because his cousins family are going to Cuba.

The people told him he is welcome to go if he can pay his own way. “Yeah right,” the person said. “When you are an income assistance recipient, taking a vacation is only a dream.”

The people told him he is welcome to go if he can pay his own way. Yeah right, the person said. “When you are an income assistance recipient, taking a vacation is only a dream.”

So overall, I myself and everyone I talked to about this story all agree on one thing. For whatever the reason that poor people do not get the invites and attention at Easter, we all agree better off people are not doing it to be mean to the poor.

However, four days straight of social Isolation does cause mental health stress for people living in poverty. It would be nice on Easter weekend if there was an organization that was open so they could go there on the Easter weekend and socialize.    

Kendall Worth is a tireless anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.


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