So with that caveat, I'd like to talk about poverty in Kitchener-Waterloo. I work with people who are on assistance through Ontario Works or Disability Support on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Recently I have been trying to advocate for them to get free gym memberships. I know that if people can go somewhere to work out that they can 1) process emotions that they are not necessarily connected to, 2) prevent illness, 3) find cheap ways to have fun and 4) develop new relationships with people who are positive and health conscious if they are trying to quit an addiction. I contacted a supervisor at the Region of Waterloo hoping to put in a joint proposal and found out that they are lobbying for people to get free bus passes. Why you ask? Because a single person on assistance gets .......$650/month.....to meet all of their monthly expenses. That's it. Rent, food, phone, car, entertainment, clothes....I seriously have no idea how they do it. I checked on Kijiji and rent in a student house where 5 strangers live together is $450./mth which leaves $50/wk for everything else. And I have often heard comments like.....well maybe they could cut back on their smoking or drinking etc etc etc. However, I know clinically that .......everyone......does avoidance behaviour like smoking, drinking, eating too much, drugs, workaholism, focusing on other people, shopping etc etc when they don't want to deal with their feelings about what is going on that feels out of their control. So who are we to judge them for doing the same? I also know clinically that no one deals with their emotions or their issues unless their basic needs are met. Food, housing, love, water, touch. It is also true that people and systems in positions of power to change this will behave and think that they are the victims and the ones being taken advantage of when challenged. Both the gyms and the bus systems would not lose money if they opened their doors to these people. No one is going to try and get onto welfare so that they can get a free bus pass or gym membership. However, the responses have been that "if other people find out then everyone will want a free membership and we can't afford that".
The bottom line is that we all matter. And we all need to be invested in helping everyone know that they matter.
Check out how impressive Medicine Hat has been in solving their homelessness problem.
Check out this video of the statistical breakdown of how fortunate we really are in this video of "If the world were a village of 100 people". https://youtu.be/QFrqTFRy-LU
And there is a brilliant woman in our city named Jackie McMillan who is pulling together people who are interested in Urban edible landscaping where City landscaping would also be designed to feed the poor. Here's a short video of how Vancouver is doing it. https://youtu.be/QGjKPcBz9YM