Poverty Challenge EventIssued: Friday, December 14, 2018
Sudbury leaders from various sectors rolled up their sleeves today and learned firsthand the realities of living in poverty. Today’s Poverty Challenge simulated real-life situations based on the lived experiences of Sudburians living in poverty. Each Poverty Challenge participant took on the role of a person living in poverty. They faced a number of common situations of a “day in the life” of someone living in poverty. They had to interact with various community service providers including social services, transportation, the food bank, health, and education, among others.
“The Poverty Challenge shone a bright light on the realities of living in poverty,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “The experience really reached our heads and our hearts, building knowledge and empathy about the need for compassionate community services. I know we all left vowing to do more to end poverty.”
The work across many sectors in Sudbury was recognized, with participants acknowledging that it takes everyone – from health care to education and from social services to municipal government – to help people in poverty and to work to end poverty.
“This experience allowed us to grow our respect, understanding, and compassion for the real struggles people face every day and commit to keeping their stories of strength and resilience alive as we move forward – in partnership – to decrease health inequities,” said René Lapierre, Chair for the Board of Health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts.
The Poverty Challenge is an activity of Circles Sudbury, an initiative led by Public Health Sudbury & Districts in partnership with twelve other Greater Sudbury agencies, who form the Partners to End Poverty Steering Committee. The Poverty Challenge event was held at St. Albert Adult Learning Centre, a key partner on the steering committee.
“We were happy to host this event at our school,” said Megan Murphy, Principal of St. Albert Adult Learning Centre. “Our school board is committed to supporting individuals on their journey to achieve their education goals, since we know that education can lay the foundation for future employment, health, and well-being. The Circles Sudbury initiative provides extra social supports to individuals along the way.”
The event also included the launch of a new Circles Sudbury video (YouTube), featuring the stories and hopes of participants connected with the Circles initiative. Circles Sudbury offers friendship, coaching, and support to individuals and their families as they move forward with their plans to exit poverty.
When we made this video, we really wanted to make people think about how they treat people trying to access the services they are providing”, said Raven, a Circles participant and Leader featured in the video. “We wanted to remind them that we are all human beings, and that we all deserve the same type of compassion.”
The event concluded with a talk from internationally acclaimed author, researcher and advocate, Dr. Dennis Raphael, who provided his reflections on the impact of poverty on health, the costs of health on society, and opportunities to reduce poverty at all regional scales.
A thriving community begins with compassion: stories from the Circles initiative