KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – During the summer months, when the weather is so much nicer, financially better off people get out and do lots of fun activities to relax with friends and family. In many cases financially better off people take vacation time from their jobs over the summer months.
This is not the case for people who live in poverty.
And yes of course there are free fun events over the summer, like Canada Day, Natal Day, and the busker fest.
However I have talked to many income assistance recipients who tell me that anxiety they deal with day to day will stop them from attending. Some also worry that they will run into people they know but haven’t seen in a while who will stigmatize them for being on Income Assistance.
One person told me that how he unexpectedly ran into people he went to school with while on the waterfront, He shared with me how they stigmatized him for being on Income Assistance. He felt that if he had been there with friends when this happened then he would have been able to handle this situation a lot better.
Next time something similar happens he will be more careful what he tells people. He may not mention that he is currently not working or attending school to avoid getting stigmatized, he says.
Here is a list of things people on low incomes miss out on during the summer.
- Attending the Jazz fest due to the expensive admission fee charged.
- The opportunity to sit outside on the patio on the waterfront and other places downtown due to expensive menu prices for both food and drinks.
- They miss out on the opportunity to be invited out to friends places for BBQ’s and get togethers.
- They miss out on opportunity to go camping in places like rural Nova Scotia.
- They miss out on fishing trips.
Here is something that would help, and would be a lot of fun.
At one point in the past few months I had conversation with a contact I have in the middle class community about something relating to poverty and summertime fun she would be interested in helping out with.
We were talking about how people who live in poverty (especially when they live in the city) miss out on the opportunity to take trips out to rural Nova Scotia.
She told me that if she could find a dealership that would donate her a van that could hold multiple passengers, she would be willing to start a not for profit service which would during the summer months give people living in poverty in Halifax an opportunity to get out of the city and see rural Nova Scotia.
Her specific ideas are:
- Going for a day trip once a week.
- These day trips could include everything from fishing trips, through to berry picking, etc.
- While outside the city, (provided she can get funding for this), include one meal while on the day trip.
- This person has a summer cottage somewhere in Cumberland County Nova Scotia. Maybe every second weekend invite some people living in poverty to join her at her cottage for the weekend.
- This woman mentioned to me that she has a cousin who owns his own gas station. If she can get the van, her cousin will donate the gas for the van.
- Provided she can get enough funding, maybe take a few who can fit in the van on a full week to Cape Breton.
And I just want to say that we both have talked to many people living in poverty who tell us they love this idea. They wish this idea could happen.
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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