KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – As the three of you most likely already know, I am a journalist who covers the large community of people who live in poverty in Nova Scotia.
I am writing to you today because as you all know the Christmas Holiday Season is coming up.
Christmas this year is going to be different from what a normal Christmas would look like. See also Kendall Worth: Christmas in October.
Let me explain that 80% of people in poverty have nowhere to go on any holiday due to social isolation, not getting along with family or not having any living family members left, or having people in their lives who are believers in the welfare stigma.
The remaining 20%, it is safe to say, do have at least one financially better off friend or family member, somebody who does look out for them and cares about the welfare recipient.
For the people who have on one, with places like Souls Harbour and other local soup kitchens still doing take out only, and with local churches possibly cancelling Christmas Eve services this year, what social support is going to be in place for them?
And the people who do have someone who is financially better off are worried that if a second lockdown happens while visiting with family over the holidays some of them are not going to be close enough to Halifax to return to their apartments immediately.
Some people tell me that they have already made up their mind that they are not going home for Christmas this year because of this factor.
Finally, whether or not you will spend the holidays alone, all are worried about what mental health and social supports are going to be available to them during this difficult time of the year.
You may remember that when this pandemic first started I wrote you this letter Kendall Worth: Open letter to Premier Stephen McNeil offering suggestions for the many problems for income assistance recipients caused by Covid-19. Since then, the one time $50 is all we received. See this story here “Kendall Worth: An update from the world of income assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That one time $50 payment was only a drop in the bucket of what was really needed to happen.
Another part of the reason why I am writing today’s open letter is because people I advocate for do not have the same resources as others to keep up with the news on things like “what COVID-19 related restrictions have been lifted to date. Because of this their anxiety is up, and their anxiety is going to get worse as the upcoming Christmas holiday season approaches.
Whether we are on lock-down again or not, I want to suggest that over the holiday season we should have an organization like the Red Cross do wellness checks on people living in poverty who are going to be alone for Christmas.
Another idea, for people who decided not to visit their family for Christmas this year I wonder if something could be arranged through a local organization where they could have a visit with two close family members in a room where social distancing is going to be practiced and other public health protocols are going to be followed.
Anyway, I will end this letter by saying, let’s find a solution where Christmas can be spent this year with as little social isolation as possible!
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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