Education featured Poverty

Kendall Worth: The long hard road of Career Seek for people on social assistance

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Earlier this year the young woman from Beaverbank, near Lower Sackville, who is in the Career Seek program came to me with a bit of an update. She tells me that not all the changes she was hoping for actually happened. 

I have written several stories about her. There was How a bus pass improves life for people living in the middle of nowhere, and then this one, Great news for young woman on income assistance as dreams of university come true.

In that last story I talk about how she got accepted into the Career Seek program. I must say she was very lucky because you hardly ever hear of any income assistance recipient getting accepted in this program.

She tells me that even though she is happy that she is living her life having productive days in her day to day life, she also tells me that she has not achieved some changes in her life she was hoping for.  

You readers of the Nova Scotia Advocate may also remember I mentioned her in this story as well. This one here: Thanksgiving a mixed blessing when you’re on social assistance

Just like at Thanksgiving she ended up spending her three and a half weeks off from classes alone by herself and feeling socially isolated. Quiet time is great, but too much quiet time can be lonely,” she said. She did take lots of walks over her holidays, did lots of reading, and watched lots of movies.

So at this point in taking her story I asked her the question: Did you know about the meals being offered for free in various locations on Christmas Day and if yes, did you consider attending any of them?

See also: Christmas 2019, Where to eat

She replied, “Kendall, yes, I was aware of those free meals offered on Christmas day. No I did not go to them because I knew I would most likely see many if not most of the same faces that I used to see at soup kitchens and drop-ins when I used to visit them back in the days. Now that I am in Career Seek I like to consider myself moved on from those days.”

This answer did not surprise me because I have also heard this very thing from other welfare recipients who have moved on to now having a part time job or taking vocational training.

She told me that during her three and a half weeks off from classes at university she wished she had friends who she could invite over to her place, or who could invite her over to their places. Even though she has made a few new friends through university, all of her new friends are quite a bit younger than her. “I am there as a mature student and if there are any other mature students going to Dalhousie I have not met them yet,” she said.

She told me that over Christmas she would have liked to contact her sister for the first time in five years, and thought about it. She ended up being scared that her sister is not willing to patch things over with her.   Her sister lives somewhere in rural Nova Scotia and she said, “even if I contact her and by some miracle we did patch things over and she invited me over for Christmas, unless she came and got me how would I get there?”

She tried to invite some international students who she recently made friends with who were not going home for Christmas. However it turned out that they already had plans made for their time off. She is now worried about how she is going to get through her time off during the summer months.   

In the Career Seek program, if you want to take a summer class or get a job during the summer months,you have to meet with your employment support worker at Community Services and discuss those plans with them. Then those plans have to be approved through your employment support worker at Community Services.  

She tells me that she will meet with her employment support worker sometime in May after her final exams. She is hoping that her employment support worker will approve of her doing one or the other, getting a summer job or taking summer classes. 

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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