The Town of Ladysmith and Social Planning Cowichan is launching three Poverty Challenges to raise awareness about some of the struggles facing those living in poverty. (File photo)

The Town of Ladysmith and Social Planning Cowichan is launching three Poverty Challenges to raise awareness about some of the struggles facing those living in poverty. (File photo)

Poverty Challenges raises awareness about meeting basic needs in Ladysmith and Stz’uminus

Poverty Survey aims to inform policy around poverty reduction in Ladysmith

Can you live on a three-day food allowance that is based on social assistance? What would it be like to get around by only accessing public or active transportation for three days? What would you do with 12 hours out in the community with nowhere to go?

For some Ladysmith and Stz’uminus residents, this is an everyday reality.

The CommUNITY Together to End Poverty Hw-nuts’-ulwum (As One) project is launching three Poverty Challenges to raise awareness about some of the struggles facing those living in poverty. Between March 29th and April 9th, you are invited to participate in one or more of these challenges:

  • Food Allowance Challenge: Live off a food allowance budget based on social assistance for three days.
  • Public/Active Transportation Challenge: Use only public or active transportation for three days.
  • 12 Hour “Nowhere To Go” Challenge: Spend 12 hours in our community with nowhere to go.

Sign up for the Poverty Challenges now through the project website and put yourself in the shoes of a fellow community member living in poverty. The CommUNITY Together to End Poverty Hw-nuts’-ulwum (As One) project is organized by the Town of Ladysmith and Social Planning Cowichan in cooperation with community partners.

“When the cost of cauliflower can reach seven dollars a head, healthy choices are often out of reach. For a single person on social assistance, your daily food budget is $3.50. For a single parent working at a 35 hours a week, minimum-wage job, you may have a daily food budget of $7.32 to feed your family. I hope the experience of the Poverty Challenges will dismantle some of the common assumptions about the character of people who find themselves using food and shelter services. In truth, anyone could find themselves needing a little help,” said Paula Masyk, Ladysmith Resources Centre Association (LRCA).

At the end of Poverty Challenge campaign, participants will be invited to a community debrief session to share their perspectives, insights gained and to brainstorm ideas for solutions to the challenges they faced.

“Transportation is a big challenge for those who don’t have a car or don’t drive. How do you get around if you live far from amenities where there is no public bus service,” said Jennifer Jones, Stz’uminus First Nation Health Manager. “Careful planning is needed just to pick up groceries, go to the pharmacy or get to a medical appointment.”

Poverty Challenge Week is one of several activities taking place through the CommUNITY Together to End Poverty Hw-nuts’-ulwum (as one) project. The goal of the project is to seek input from Ladysmith and Stz’uminus residents on how poverty impacts them and gather ideas on how we can work together to reduce poverty, at a local level. A Poverty Reduction Questionnaire is also available at the project website and on PlaceSpeak until April 15th, 2021.

The information and ideas gathered throughout this project will lead to the creation of a Poverty Reduction Plan that will identify strategies for tackling the underlying causes of poverty by engaging with those who have lived experiences as well as with those who have not. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the solutions.

“A community-based Poverty Reduction Plan will help guide us towards a better understanding of the unique issues facing residents here in Ladysmith and area as we work towards creating lasting change for folks who may be struggling,” said Mayor Aaron Stone.

“At the same time, the face of poverty is changing and we have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic how families, seniors, neighbours and youth venturing out into the workforce are all struggling in different ways.”

The Town successfully received provincial funding in June 2020 to develop a Poverty Reduction Strategy for Ladysmith and collaborated with Social Planning Cowichan and other community agencies to complete the project.

The CommUNITY Together to End Poverty – Hw-nuts’-ulwum (As One) project is guided by a working group of community-based organizations that are championing the engagement process.

Members of the working group include local representatives from the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association (LRCA), Stz’uminus Health, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island, First Nations Health Authority, Stz’uminus Primary School, Island Health, Our Cowichan Health Network, Nutsumaat Lelum Child Care Centre, School District 68, the Town and Social Planning Cowichan.