Tuesday, 20 November 2018

One of the many hard things about having to depend on social assistance is the stigma. People often assume you’re lazy, even though invisible disabilities stop you from working. The other day poverty advocate Kendall Worth talked with one such person, who got verbally attacked by her fellow passengers on the bus.

Kate, a fearless mother who we have written about before, fights Community Services and gets the glasses (with warranty) her autistic son requires. It was hard and scary, and it looks like questions the NS Advocate was asking made a bit of a difference. This story has a happy ending, but you can’t help but wonder how many people would just have given up much earlier.

Nothing is ever simple when you’re on income assistance. Just ask Kate, a single mother. Michael, the elder of her two children, is a four-year old boy who has non-visible disabilities and is not yet fully potty trained. Now Community Services has sent Kate a letter that it will no longer help pay for the boy’s diapers. A decision like that is devastating when getting by is a struggle. “These caseworkers make me feel me feel as if they’re paying for it, as if it’s coming out of their pay cheques. It’s driving me bonkers.”

We first met Sophia a couple of months ago, and did a Lives on Welfare story about her  efforts to provide for her family while struggling with chronic pain. Here are more of Sophia’s memories about growing up on and off welfare. Unable to afford a computer, Sophia wrote this on her phone, because born story tellers like Sophia will always find a way.

Another episode in our series Lives on Welfare where people living in poverty tell their stories: Things went relatively well for Emma, a mother who lives with her daughter in a town an hour or so away from Halifax. Then she got sick, lost her job, and ended up on social assistance. Then her daughter also got sick.

“I felt the strong need to write this post because of my frustration with this unresponsiveness from my worker, and I wondered how many other people on Income Assistance experience the same thing.” An income assistance recipient writes on calling over and over and about the stress of never getting that much awaited call back.

Frequent contributor Tim Blades on living in poverty, his struggle with illness and mental health issues, and the urgent need to be compassionate and open with one another. “Now I want to delete that last paragraph. My heart is racing just from typing that last paragraph. While I want to be safe and delete that last paragraph, If I let go of that secret, it’s just one less thing for me to hold onto.”

Meet Sophia (not her real name), who lives with a painful illness, raises a son who lives with developmental disabilities, and does all that on a $156 monthly personal allowance, after rent and power bills are paid, and an arrears to Community Services is dealt with. Please let that sink in. $156 per month.  At the bottom of the story we tell you what you can do to help change this.