We All Live Here: Building Bridges

Not everyone experiences life the same way.  We live in the same environment with the same expectations but different realities. The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force supports people with grounded expertise to participate in solving our community problems.  Members of our Community Voices are graduates from the Getting Ahead program.

In 2018, we completed 4 Getting Ahead sessions in Hanover, Kincardine, Owen Sound and Walkerton with a total of 222 graduates. Getting Ahead is a 15 session (3 hours/session), 8 week program designed to help people create their own path for making a stable, secure life for themselves and their family.

A Getting Ahead Program Evaluation (Wahler, 2015) found that “the program … facilitates positive changes in poverty-related knowledge, perceived stress, mental health and well-being; social support, self-efficacy, hope; and goal directed behavior and planning amongst participants.”  Read the full study at GA-Program-Evaluation-Results_21 Oct 2015. Four sessions are scheduled in 2019 in Markdale, Wiarton, Port Elgin and Owen Sound funded by Grey County and Bruce County.

In 2018, a new Building Emotional Resources course for Getting Ahead graduates was piloted. The  Pilot has been picked up to run for 12 weeks in Hanover in March 2019.

This program is for people who have lost their way at some point and want to get ‘themselves’ back.  Getting Ahead graduates use a workbook full of exercises that invite them to reflect on their life and the way they deal with problems, with losses, and with their emotions.

Taking a constructive approach, participants increase their awareness, build more resources and become stronger as they move from one exercise to the next.   Read more in Emilia O’Neill-Baker’s article “Build Emotional Resources to Own More of Yourself”.

Bridges Out of Poverty promotes an active partnership between people of different economic backgrounds – based on mutual respect – to address poverty in a systematic way. Since 2015, the Bridges Action Group has been coordinating training with community groups on the Bridges Out of Poverty concepts.  In 2018, we provided 2 trainings (39 people) and offered many awareness sessions in Grey County.

The next component of the Bridges Out of Poverty program is the formation of Circles™.  Circles™ is a supportive, intentional, reciprocal, befriending relationship comprised of a Getting Ahead graduate and their family who are moving out of poverty (Circle Leader) and 2 to 4 community-based middle class people (Allies) willing to befriend the family and support their way out of poverty.

Since 2017, the Bridges Action Group has been working on a Circles™ design.  We have been meeting with Circles Canada and organizations in Ontario implementing various models while determining various cost factors.  In 2018, the YMCA coordinated a Poverty Simulation with Circles Sarnia-Lambton and Getting Ahead graduates for professionals in Elmwood. And we hosted a Circles Information Session in Hanover in 2018.  We continue to work on a design and funding for the model in 2019.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty_17 October 2013

Thursday the 17th October, we will mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the theme of which for 2013 is: Working together towards a world without discrimination: building on the experience and knowledge of people in extreme poverty.

Sharon O’Shea (UNICEF) asks us to think about this theme and what it means practically; we must demand that societies be judged on and held accountable for their ability to provide lives of dignity for all members, including those living in extreme poverty and those who are the most marginalized.  The shame, humiliation and exclusion that our most vulnerable often face in attempting to exercise their rights or make a better life for themselves and their families should be a source of shame for us, not for them.

Welcoming Communities Forum 2 coming up on Nov 8

7 October 2013
The May Welcoming Communities Forum was a great success, and thanks again to everyone who made it happen.
Over the summer Joan and Colleen have continued to research and follow up on the recommendations from the May Forum:

·      Contact with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to discuss potential funding, Pathways to Prosperity, an alliance of university, community, and government partners dedicated to fostering welcoming communities and promoting the integration of immigrants and minorities across Canada and with the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

·      Contact with Renfrew County, Simcoe County and North Bay about their Local Immigration Partnership programs and what we can learn from them.

·      Contact with the Guelph Local Immigration Partnership program and Alex Goss.

·      The City of Owen Sound Economic Development Committee has developed a Welcoming Communities strategy and will be attending a trade fair in Toronto.

·      Meeting with Bert Loopstra, Chamber of Commerce to discuss this initiative’s importance for the business sector, and opportunities for work together.

·      Presentations to Grey and Bruce County Economic Development Committees and to Bluewater Board of Education are planned for the fall.

The most important follow up item was to provide information on what other communities like ours have done to build Welcoming Communities.  We are very pleases that with the support of the City of Owen Sound, we able to bring speakers from North Bay, Simcoe and Renfrew – Lanack to present on the experiences, challenges and successes that their Welcoming Communities Initiatives have made over the past three years.
We invite you, and community stakeholders to attend Welcoming Communities Forum 2 on November 8, 2013 at the Shoreline Room, Harry Lumley Bayshore Arena from 9:00 – 12:00 noon. 
There is no charge and all are welcome.
Attached is a flyer and an agenda for the Forum.  Flyer Forum 2
Please feel free to distribute this to people who are interested in building a Welcoming Community in Grey and Bruce.
If you have any questions, please contact Joan Irvine:  irvine@bmts.com or Colleen Purdon:cpurdon@bmts.com