The Hastings & Prince Edward Poverty Roundtable, established in 2013 by a group of local organizations and individuals concerned about the prevalence of poverty in our communities, is working to bring together people living in poverty, concerned individuals, services and business leaders to educate our community about the barriers created by poverty and what can be done to make a difference.
With support from community partners, the Poverty Roundtable brought internationally certified Bridges Out of Poverty trainer, Gayle Montgomery to Belleville on May 5th to introduce us to a perspective on poverty that many of us didn’t have; that is, the unique perspective of living or having lived in poverty.
Gayle achieved this by providing a mental model of poverty that focuses on “relationships” – very different from the middle class model which focuses on “achievement” and the wealth model which has a “connections” focus.
This is significant because most service providers working with families in poverty tend to come from a middle class background. Our “mainstream” world contains hidden rules of class that make it difficult for people living in poverty to understand and be understood. This can lead to misconceptions and judgement that hinder the development of trusting relationships. Gayle was quick to point out, however, that Bridges looks at the barriers experienced by people living in poverty through a systems lense and not through individuals and organizations.
Gayle stated that poverty is not just about the lack of financial resources and money alone will not end poverty. She explained that emotional resources, including persistence, the ability to convey feelings, and possession of non-destructive coping strategies may be just as, if not more important than financial stability. Other resources include: physical, mental, spiritual and support systems.
Bridges defines poverty as, “the extent to which a person, institution or community does without resources.” Gayle stressed that indigenous communities across Canada experience disproportionate levels of poverty as compared to “mainstream” populations.
Gayle introduced the concept of “future story” – our individual collection of choices and strategies for achieving them, using our toolbox of resources. She explained that people living in generational poverty are caught in a trap where they often feel they don’t have choices and are powerless to change the direction of their lives.
The Bridges movement sets out to change the way we as individuals, institutions and communities view and respond to poverty and instability. To learn more about the Bridges Out of Poverty support program and its concepts, strategies and implementation, please visit http://www.ahaprocess.com/solutions/community.
To learn more about the HPE Poverty Roundtable and complete a brief survey due May 27th, please visit http://www.povertyroundtable.ca.