KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Just in case any of you readers wondered why you have not seen very many of my stories posted in the Nova Scotia Advocate lately, the reason is that I was taking a little break from my writing. I really needed a break.
As of Friday April 23rd we are in another lockdown in HRM. People in my community tell me that they are discouraged and scared.
It has just been one thing after another. The pandemic had a huge effect on people who were dealing with their mental health and their increased level of social isolation. The bomb of social isolation has hit them hard.
I always say that 20% of the people I write about are lucky enough to have support throughout the pandemic, 80% of them are not so lucky. Homelessness and housing issues only add to the problems.
Luckily the people I tend to interview for my various stories in the Nova Scotia Advocate have not become homeless, at least as of yet. What is keeping them from becoming homeless is that they either live in public housing where their rent is affordable, or they qualify for a housing subsidy, or they work part-time, being allowed to keep some of their earnings, before Income Assistance starts clawing back.
I recently had a conversation with an income assistance named Nick (not his real name).
Nick is looking forward to someday once again sit inside Souls Harbour and reconnect with his social contacts who go there. Of course this is not going to happen until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
“During the whole time of these lockdowns has anyone such as family members or friends called to check in on you,” I asked,
“Kendall, I am one of the safe to say 80% of welfare recipients who do not have anyone such as caring family members or friends who care enough to want to check in and see how I am doing. They want nothing to do with me because I receive the Income Assistance check from Community Services”
“If this whole time of us following restrictions taught me anything, it has taught me the value of having social contacts at Souls Harbour, even though when times were normal I never associated with them outside of Souls Harbour,” Nick said.
“I believe that if we ever go through another pandemic with lockdowns like the current one, we need a system for those of us who know each other through places like Souls Harbour where we can check in on each other. Only talking with our doctors and counselors does not help with everything at a time like this,” he said. Nick is not the only welfare recipient who has this problem.
On a personal note, I am not going to get to see my nieces and nephews who live 40 minutes outside of Antigonish. I am not going to feel comfortable traveling there untill I have had both doses of my vaccine.
However, I continue to be grateful for all the supports I have established and kept throughout this whole time.
Let’s hope for a miracle so that these abnormal days will end soon!
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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