Sunday, 20 May 2018

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.

“For many years I held full time employed positions, mainly minimum wage, and have paid my taxes dutifully to this government. Then something happened in my life that rendered me and my 16 year old daughter homeless. As a last resort I took myself and my daughter to seek refuge at a homeless shelter. My daughter was accepted without a problem, but I was not accepted as I was employed full time.” Lucy MacDonald shares a letter she sent to premier Stephen McNeil about being homeless, and about trying to make ends meet while on Income Assistance.

Frequent contributor and anti-poverty activist Kendall Worth reports on the case of a woman who gets harassed by a neighbour in her apartment building and neither her landlord nor the police are willing to put a stop to it. Because she is on welfare she can’t just pack up her stuff and move. She may well end up homeless as a result, she says.

As a bit of a follow-up on last winter’s very successful Women’s March on Washington here in Halifax about three hundred women and allies gathered at Province House today at noon to remind the world they’re still here. We hope to do a bit more on today’s rally, but for now, here are a couple of photos, and El Jones’ contribution, on Nova Scotia’s women who live in poverty, published with her kind permission.

New contributor Fara Spence profiles Ruby, an older woman living with severe arthritis and unable to work she had to turn to Community Services after her husband left her. ““Looking back, I was naive. I always thought Community Services would be…I don’t know, happy to help.”

Kendall Worth with a short and sad story about a woman living with developmental disabilities and mental health issues who lost her job and is dreading the day she will have to apply for social assistance.