Building a Healthy Bridges Initiative

As we at the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force move forward in our planning it is good to learn from other communities.  Lyn Jackson writes about Building a Health Bridges Initiative in her blog (July 13th, 2013)

Picture if you will a successful Bridges community—one where all sectors and economic classes are working together toward a healthy, sustainable community. A community where lives are being strengthened. A community where those in poverty are provided the opportunity and tools to build a stable life. A community where strong planning and communication are working in sync. Can you envision this?

As you work at building this community (and it is possible), I encourage you to think through and consider laying a strong foundation for the work. Where do I suggest you begin?

  1. By communicating, communicating, and then communicating some more. Bring together those with the passion and vision to move this initiative forward. Talk with those who do not understand the work or who want to keep doing the work without including others. The more you communicate, the more people will learn about the initiative. Those that can really help make things happen will step up to join you.
  2. Collaborate with those already walking the path toward building a sustainable community. Come together and discuss what you have in common. Make sure everyone understands the language you are using. Use strengths that others can provide for the initiative. Find those in your community who can fill in the gaps for strengths that are not already represented. Make sure you have all three economic classes at the table.
  3. Work on your funding as part of the initiative. You can have a wonderful group of people working on building a sustainable community, but without funds you fill find yourself struggling to continue the initiative. That’s where the next suggestion comes into play: Focus on planning.
  4. Planning is important. Many times the constructs of Bridges build such excitement that you can find yourself wanting to run ahead of the plan. Don’t be tempted! Nothing will torpedo your initiative faster than not having a plan worked out as you move forward. This will help others figure out where they fit and how they can help. Once you have the people and the plan in place, you will be able to move forward with confidence.

Building Human and Social Capital in the Community

by Lisa Stoddard

It’s so difficult to get our collective “head” around the issue of poverty because it’s such a complex issue. One of the ways that we began to develop a better understanding of the complexity of the issue of poverty was by trying to think of our work in terms of how it applies to the four areas into which a vast majority of the research about poverty falls. After surveying all of the poverty-related research out there, aha! Process found that there were really four major causes of poverty. In Bridges Out of Poverty those causal areas are (1) behaviors of the individual, (2) human and social capital in the community, (3) exploitation, and (4) political/economic structures.

The most common area of focus among human service organizations is the first one—behaviors of the individual. At Community Action Partnership (CAP), we’ve found that just focusing on helping our program participants learn new behaviors isn’t enough. We also have to address human and social capital, issues of exploitation, and the political and economic structures that exist. One of our projects is called “Bridges to Work.” This project is focused on developing skills with both entry-level employees and their supervisors in order to increase retention and the opportunity for additional training, advancement, and income. We’ve found that we can have the greatest impact if we give entry-level employees and their supervisors a shared understanding. To that end, we use information from Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World with entry-level workers as part of a comprehensive course to help them “do better” at work.

Additionally, we provide a poverty simulation and Bridges training to supervisory staff. Feedback from employers is that this is an eye-opening learning experience for them. One employer described his change in mindset as moving from “what is wrong with this employee” to “let’s see what we can do to help this employee retain his job” because he now had a better understanding of the issues. Bridges is one of the tools that are allowing us to help both employees and employers develop more beneficial strategies for mutual success. CAP is changing mindsets, and these changes are impacting workers and businesses alike.

– See more at:


Bridges Out of Poverty – It’s Our Business Too! What Works in Grey Bruce? Poverty Forum May 16th, 2013

Bridges Out of Poverty_It’s Our Business Too Workshop Poster and Registration Form_May 16th, 2013

A Bridges Out of Poverty educational opportunity

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

CAW Education Centre, Port Elgin

Gain a deeper understanding of the challenges – and strengths – of people living in poverty. This one day workshop will help employers, community organizations, social-service agencies, and individuals address and reduce poverty in a comprehensive way.

You will…

  • Examine the impact of poverty on our local workforce
  • Identify ways to improve job retention rates, build resources, improve outcomes, and support those who are moving out of poverty
  • Identify ways to improve relationships between social service sector and business sector.

This one day workshop will be delivered by Certified Bridges out of Poverty Trainer

Gayle Montgomery  Lambton County Social Services

For further information and registration please call Jill Umbach at 519-377-9406 or email: