KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – This will be my third (and final, for now) story about Daryl and Darlene, who met one Easter in the QEII emerge, and became friends. Yesterday I wrote about their daily lives and the struggle to make ends meet on income assistance.
Today I write about their hopes and dreams. And remember, Daryl and Darlene are not their real names.
You will see that they have some very interesting ideas about how they can contribute to society.
Even though Daryl and Darlene are real good friends, they have no interest whatsoever in moving in together, let alone starting a common law relationship. They are there for each other as friends because they understand each others situation, both financially and what it is like to live with mental health issues.
One reason they are never going to move in together is because they are not going to deal with the current policy of cohabitation under Employment Support and Income Assistance program, and lose money from their checks as a result of doing so.
This story here, A happy ending after Community Services screw up, and some others that I link to in that story, show the problems Community Services would cause if they decided to move in together.
I also talked with Darlene and Daryl about their deepest wishes for a life away from the stigma of income assistance.
They wished that there is more to their lives then just receiving that welfare check, and depending on the soup kitchens and drop-ins for getting out and socializing. The problem is that when you are on income assistance and have disabilities it is downright difficult to get accepted into programs like Career Seek.
Both of them have told me they tried to get accepted into that program so they can go back to school. The bureaucratic nonsense and systematic problems of Community Services stepped in the way.
Of course Daryl and Darlene are hardly the first two income assistance recipients who faced these issues.
Daryl and Darlene both live with learning disabilities, also they both found they were slow learners in school during their regular school lives. But we all agreed that we all have time in our lives where we learn from experience.
One dream they have of something they would love to do for volunteer work in their future is to be peer supports for people who check themselves into the QEII emerge because they need human contact.
Daryl And Darlene both agree that going back to university and studying social work is out of the question for them because of their learning disabilities. However, if they could find a way to gain the right support then achieving their goal could likely happen.
Then Daryl and Darlene talked a bit about why they would like to do this type of work.
They said, ”Kendall, we both had the opportunity to meet and talk with others who are also living in poverty and checking themselves into emerge only for human contact.”
This happens for the following reasons:
#1 – Not enough money to live on and frustrations of dealing with the employment Support and Income assistance program.
#2 – not having good relationships for family and friends,
#3 – in some cases they have unhealthy relationships with partners.
Something else that comes into play and makes things worse is that many people who are on Income Assistance are scared to some forward about their situations. Daryl and Darlene have both said they personally have seen evidence of this.
In their view professionals are not seeing this.
The point I am trying to make here is that Daryl and Darlene believe that the professionals are missing the knowledge gained from their lived experience that they could offer as peer supports.
Kendall Worth is an award-winning anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.
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