Powered By Values
Please note: The views and opinions expressed within Powered by Values are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the official policies of the London InterCommunity Health Centre or its funders.
Please note: The views and opinions expressed within Powered by Values are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the official policies of the London InterCommunity Health Centre or its funders.
Originally posted January 28, 2014.
Today is January 28and it is Bell Canada’s “let’s talk” campaign. Bell will donate 5 cents for every tweet and retweet using the #letstalk hashtag.
Mental health issues effect one out of every four Canadians. Usually on this day, I talk about my friends and family members who have been impacted by mental health and how it impacts me as a friend or family member. This year, I am talking about me and my mental health struggles over the past year.
I have worked in health and social services for most of my career. In 2013 we conducted staff training about vicarious trauma for those working in the helping professions.Our biggest work risk from an occupational health and safety perspective is not injury from slip and falls, violent clients, or even needle stick injuries. Our biggest risk is the toll that this work can take on your mental health, even when you do all the right things from a work life balance perspective – get exercise, access the EAP program, take flexible sick days. Lots of people will be fine with the work. Others “manage”. Still others are deeply impacted.
On November 26, I drove away from the Health Centre with tears streaming down my face. I really wasn’t sure whether I would return to work at this organization. For several months, I had been struggling to hold it all together inside my head – the impact of the stress both at home and at work. I had finally been in to see my family physician – an appointment made for something completely different – when I had a melt down and realized that I could not stay at work. After an assessment, my family physician said to me, in almost these same words: “I am not saying that you are, but you have all the symptoms for a moderate to severe depressive episode.” We worked out a plan that was a combination of time off work, medication, talk therapy and my own program of what I began to refer to as “radical self-care.” I started telling people that I hit a brick wall and then it fell on me, because that is exactly what it had felt like.
I received lots of support, but I also heard from a few people asking me if it was really all that bad. It was that bad – it was as close to teetering on a ledge as I had ever been. Although I was not feeling suicidal, I really, really was struggling to get up every day. Never leaving my bed was a serious consideration. I was the person who did more, carried more and if having a bad day, would take a deep breath, have a cup of tea and carry on. During my time away from work I practiced radical self-care – which for me was any self-care at all – and rested, got some exercise, connected with a great therapist, avoided anyone who I didn’t think would be 100% supportive, and practiced setting some boundaries with myself.
I returned to work on January 6 and I was largely physically and mentally ready to return. I also know that I could easily have been off work for much longer. Returning to work has required a great deal of attention to holding onto the things that keep me healthy – containing work within reasonable working hours; ensuring exercise and meditation are part of my daily routine; creating space in my day to catch my breath and pause. For the most part, people did not ask me what was wrong after I announced that I was off on a personal or medical leave. To those who did ask how I was doing, or how my procedure went, I simply indicated that I am feeling much better. I wasn’t avoiding the question, I was just allowing assumptions to sit. The truth is that about one week into my leave, I was pretty clear what I was going to write for my January 28 blog.
Depression, burnout, stress, and the long list of other mental health issues shows up in as many ways as there are people grappling with these issues. Dealing with mental health issues requires individual approaches because not one medication or behavioural strategy will work for everyone. We need a good early intervention system that is accessible to everyone. We need strategies that are not just crisis and acute care driven if we really want to change the stigma and the impact of mental health in our communities. I was also really clear as I drove away from the Health Centre that I was not going to contribute to the stigma of mental health and the assumptions we make about whose “who has mental health issues.”
My name is Michelle Hurtubise, I am strong, capable and competent and I have struggled with depression. #Endthestigma #letstalk
Guest Blog by Amanda Topping, London InterCommunity Health Centre Staff and Heather Peach, Clark Road Secondary School Student.
The dictionary defines pride as the `feeling of deep satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements or from qualities that are widely admired`. Even though this simplifies the meaning, this definition is the basis for celebrating Gay Pride throughout July. Pride can be an individual feeling but it has also formed a time of year where a community can come together to rejoice in diversity, individuality, acceptance, and the pleasure of being oneself. In the words of my grandmother, pride is not judging people on how they ‘butter their biscuits’. Pride Month is grounded on a positive stance against violence and discrimination toward the LGTBQ community.
Gay Pride focuses on celebrating the many different letters of sexuality, but it also challenges society’s definitions of family and gender expression. Binary definitions of the words ‘gender’ or ‘family’ are not inclusive, leaving some individuals and families isolated. Pride provides a time to promote complete inclusivity – inclusivity that should extend beyond the month of July.
Working as a youth outreach and having a passion for human sexuality, I would like to offer a LGBTQ youth voice from our community. Instead of trying to write words on their behalf, I inquired if anyone from the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at Clarke Road Secondary would like to share. Peachy, a GSA member, consented to offer her inspiration:
“For years I have been part of the Clarke Road GSA and I personally have learned from my peers and the community that is okay to be yourself, and there should be no shame in being exactly who you were born to be, which in reality is anything you want to be. Also over the years, I have come to grips with who I am which is a sister, a friend, an aunt, a daughter, and a proud supporter of gay rights and I cannot help but love who I am becoming. I am a proud supporter of my LGBTQ friends and myself have discovered that no matter if there are people out there who will belittle you, there are more out there who will help you back onto your feet and make you feel better, but life will throw curve balls out of nowhere and sometimes getting over the initial shock can take a while but in the end everything, I guess the moral of my little story is that, life will be tough, love will be hard and acceptance is the key to living a healthy and happy life, you just have to learn to roll with the punches and love the little things in life, I know I have.” ~Heather Peach
Alongside other Clarke Road GSA members and LIHC staff/clients, Peachy and I will be celebrating pride in the London Pride Parade. Everyone is welcome join with cheer!
Guest Blog by Sarah Davis, London InterCommunity Health Centre Staff
Watching my daughter struggle to invoke change in her peer group has been a source of frustration and of pride. My daughter recently graduated from elementary school, leaving behind a student population where she changed the thoughts of some of her peers and laid the groundwork for future change.
Diana is passionate about inclusion. She has rainbow hair 90% of the time, wore a rainbow sundress to her graduation, and speaks her mind on gender and sexual diversity. She often stands alone, and prefers this to being a bystander.
Last year, I sat teary-eyed in a recital at a Christian church, as she performed the song “Same Love”, by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Diana sported pink hair, a light blue sleeveless blouse (a gift from an ill grandmother), a 1980’s black “Madonna” style layered lace mini-skirt, fishnets, and black stilettos that goodness knows; I don’t have the poise to walk in! She sang with conviction. A father sitting a few pews over, stood up and was quickly pulled back to a seating position by his wife. I would like to think that he wasn’t paying attention to the song and simply timed his attempted exit poorly. The body language he demonstrated, however, suggested that he had issue with the choice in song.
I looked at Diana very differently in that moment.
I saw before me a young woman, not afraid to be herself and ready to take on the world. In that moment, Diana represented the freedom that woman throughout time had suffered for; and yet my joy was tempered by my apprehension of the difficult road ahead. How long would it be before she saw the same level of acceptance for sexual diversity?
After the recital, Diana was approached and questioned about her song selection. She asked me later why so many people spoke to her at this recital. Not only was she oblivious to how much social freedom she represented for woman, she had no idea that folks listening to her would presume that she identified as gay, and in fact, this bewildered her. She told me that this ignorance is the reason she believes people need to be educated – and she is right.
My daughter spent the remaining time in her school trying to form an inclusion club. Her principal was unable to find a teacher to support this. She was told that having a safe and inclusive space potentially placed questioning students “at risk”. She cited amendments to the Education Act that allow her the right to form this club, even alone; and she was told that the school board policies on supervision took precedent over her right under the Act. This experience reinforced for Diana how important it was to continue the conversation about gender and inclusion.
My daughter started this work first in support of her peers who she knows identify outside their parents’ expectations. She continues down this path determined to change the conversation for good! Diana has stood in the face of controversy, judgement, and alienation. She stood alone because she knew it was the right thing to do.
I don’t want to live in a politically correct world where a young person expressing support of gender/sexual inclusion is thereby presumed gay. I want to live in my daughter’s world – where we do the right thing, and expect others to follow, simply because it is right. Pride is our community’s avenue for invoking change in the conversation and showing our loved ones that they don’t stand alone. Pride is about the right to expect equality and inclusion. I am proud of my daughter and of her ability to lead on important issues of humanity.
My daughter Diana is my 14 year old champion – who is yours?
Guest Blog written by the Mental Health Team.
“We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of well-being.” (CMHA, 2014)
This week our community launched a game changing initiative and one of the founders of that initiative publicly set a big audacious goal.
The game changer was the launch of the London Poverty Research Centre (LPRC – http://povertyresearch.ca/) . The big audacious goal? The London Food Bank announced that it wants to close its doors within three years (http://www.glenpearson.ca/the-parallel-parliament-blog/ ).
I am one of the members of the task force establishing the London Poverty Research Centre. The others include Glen Pearson (London Food Bank), Sue Wilson (Centre for Systemic Justice, Sisters of St. Joseph), Ross Fair (Fanshawe College, St. Thomas), and Sean Quigley (Emerging Leaders London). I became involved in the London Poverty Research Centre because as the Executive Director of a community health centre, I see the impact of both short-term and long-term poverty on people’s health and well-being. At the individual level, poverty negatively impacts people’s physical and mental health. At the system level we see other “costs.” With greater poverty, health care costs increase, crime rates increase, and the high school graduation rate drops. London Chief of Police Brad Duncan puts the 2012 price tag for triaging individuals with mental health issues at $12 million dollars (for London Police Services alone). Not only does this mean that people with mental health issues are being criminalized, but so too, in a way, is poverty. Clearly, we need a different way to respond to poverty in our community or we will all pay more as tax payers.
The LPRC will take the approach that the more we understand the impact of poverty in our community, the more we can tailor solutions that make a real difference. By engaging with those with lived experience, through participatory (or what we call living) research, we can make a difference in our city by connecting with those most impacted by poverty. We discussed this idea with one of our local politicians who got quite excited at the concept as London is often used as a test city for new marketplace ideas. Why not do the same with policy changes that could positively impact people’s lives?
Our research areas will be Food Security, Precarious Employment, and Mental Health and Homelessness. Above all, we want to bring forward solutions that will make a difference, not research that will sit on the shelf for academic reasons, or in a policy drawer.
Food Security research questions will look at questions such as
Precarious Employment will explore questions such as :
Mental Health and homelessness will explore:
Some of our critics have said that “we” know that there is poverty and “we” know what it takes to make a difference. There is some truth in this – we do know the poverty rate nationally. However, we cannot get a standard number of how many people are homeless in London. We know that increasing income makes a difference – and yet, politically we can’t seem to get there. So what if we started looking at the research, understand how it is directly happening in London, engage those most impacted and hear what would make a difference for them? And then start making changes at a local level? And research those changes so that we can demonstrate the impact and the cost savings to the system at large? Use that information to show that it can be done?
We believe that a localized approach to research, using participatory action research, combined with the research being undertaken elsewhere on these issues can have a real impact in people’s lives. Above all, we believe there is a better way for us to respond as a community. We are making a commitment to do it differently.
*Written by Ola, Coordinator of the Health Centre’s Women of the World program (WOW)
International Women’s Day (IWD), so what?
IWD is fast approaching and so are events to commemorate the day. IWD – what does it mean to you?
International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world. It is a day for recognizing women’s accomplishments, of celebrating achievements made so far, and it is a reminder that there are inequalities yet to be addressed.
According to historic accounts, we celebrate women’s day because several years ago, in the middle of the 19th century – a number of brave, courageous women who were garment workers in textile factories in the US stood up to repressive systems. They said NO MORE to inhuman working conditions and low wages. By the turn of the 19th century, women had formed labor unions demanding shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights and an end to child labor.
So the women’s movement started with the fight for labor rights (adequate working conditions, better pay or equal pay for equal work), then it developed into the fight for civil rights (to vote and hold political office), and then to peace movements (protesting wars). But it wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century in 1995, at a Beijing conference on women, that 189 countries recognized a connection between women’s rights and the health and well being of society. At that conference, the countries agreed that inequalities between women and men have serious consequences for the well-being of people. Thereafter, the conference declared a set of goals for women’s progress in various areas including politics, health and education.
Women’s rights are an indicator for the well-being of a society. Since women carry more responsibilities for raising children, it suffices to say that gender equality furthers the cause of child survival and the development for all of society. Canada recognizes gender as a social determinant of health, yet still slow in progress. For instance, International comparisons among OECD Nations (members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) show that, in 2006, Canada was among the nations with the greatest gap between men and women’s earnings. Canada was ranked 19 out of 22. Recently, the country was ranked 1st on the list of G20 best and worst countries for women, ranking high in education and access to universal health coverage but still low in reducing gender pay gap and low participation of women in politics.
So where are we? There is still inequality in the workplace; we need more opportunities and access to resources, equal sharing of responsibilities for the family by men and women, and an end to violence against women. We need these and more for the well being of our families and development of our community.
So this year if you haven’t thought about it before, when you think of IWD think of the importance of empowering women and girls and closing those inequality gaps to ensuring a healthier London Community.
… Happy International Women’s Day!
For more information:
Guest Blog by Mandy Knill, Coordinator of the Ethno-Racial Youth Mentoring Program
Saturday, December 7 2013, marked this year’s international Help-Portrait day. Help-Portrait is an organization of photographers who donate their time and resources to take professional family portraits of those who would not otherwise have the opportunity. This year, the Health Centre’s Ethno-Racial Youth Mentoring Project was selected as the program that members of London’s Help-Portrait team provided professional family portraits to. This would not have been possible without one of our volunteer youth mentors, Christine MacCauley, who connected the Health Centre with the Help-Portrait team.
The Body Shop also kindly offered two staff members to do professional make-up to those participants who wished to get a little ‘pampered’ for their photographs.
All photographers and volunteers met early Saturday morning to set-up and to ensure lighting was just right, taking many photos of each other so that they could ensure the portraits turned out perfectly. Families were scheduled in 20 minute intervals to have their make-up done, picture taken (with many different poses) and waited as the photos were printed and framed onsite. All involved were patient, caring and took the time to talk to and learn the name of each family member.
As Program Coordinator of the Ethno-Racial Youth Mentoring Project, I had the pleasure of being part of such a special day. I was honoured to present some of the families’ portraits to them, witnessing smiles, laughter and gratitude as they looked at their photographs. Many hugs and thank yous were given not only to me, but to the photographers, gofers, printers and make-up artists. It was a truly wonderful experience and everyone involved went above and beyond to ensure each and every family had a portrait they will treasure for the rest of their lives.
I would like to make a special thanks to those involved in the Help-Portrait team: Bryan Nelson, Steve Vizniowski, Diane Weiler, Josephine Pockett, Todd Daily, Donna Currie, Chris Baldwin, Sue Southon and Jessica Vizniowski. An additional thank you to the two Body Shop employees, Stephanie Murphy and Larissa Stover for donating their day off to offer their make-up services.
I would want to recognize Christine MacCauley, Sherine Fahmy, Navpreet Singh, and Cara Duquette, volunteers with the Ethno-Racial Youth Mentoring Project, for assisting throughout the day in any way needed.
Here is a photo of those involved:
Dear Community Partners,
As many of you are aware, the London InterCommunity Health Centre has been a part of the Old East Village community for nearly 25 years.
For many of those years we worked in partnership with Lorne Avenue Public School to deliver a variety of programs under the umbrella of the Children’s Nutrition and Learning Project. We have been active participants in the community’s efforts to save Lorne Avenue Public School from closure as we believe neighbourhood schools are an important component of healthy communities. Today we continue to deliver an afterschool program called SHAC (Snacks, Homework, Activities and Crafts) to students enrolled at Lorne Avenue. We’re actively engaged in a number of communities initiatives related to the Old East Village.
Earlier this year, the Health Centre wrote a letter to the Thames Valley District School Board expressing interest in exploring use of the school’s vacant space for a selection of our programs and services. We hoped that the vacant space would give us room to expand and enhance our services while giving the school board a partner that could potentially help keep the school open. We were very excited at the possibility of creating a community hub that brought together some of the best that London had to offer. We were filled with ideas of new programming generated by community discussion and passion.
Since that time we have held a consultation with the community, and met with engineers, architects and other specialists related to the school building. We appreciate the time provided to us by the community and the School Board to undertake our due diligence in this exploration.
On October 25, the Board of Directors of the London InterCommunity Health Centre met to make a decision related to a move into the available space at the school. After careful consideration, their decision is to not pursue the move.
In reviewing how to re-purpose the school in order to meet student needs and Health Centre space requirements, our Board determined that the resulting design is not effective for client movement and accessibility. The cost of renovating an older school building to meet the requirements of an agency providing modern primary care is considerable. In reviewing the cost of renovating and retrofitting this building, and the aforementioned design considerations, our Board of Directors felt that this was not the most efficient and effective use of tax payer funds. The cost was estimated at double that of other spaces considered in the past.
There was much exciting potential associated with a move to Lorne Avenue Public School and we are sorry to say goodbye to the possibilities. However, the Health Centre will continue to pursue a suitable location that will allow our programs to grow and ensure that we can continue to serve the community to the best of our ability.
If you have any questions about this decision, please contact Janet McAllister, Board President, at firstname.lastname@example.org, (519) 858-5158 ext. 20081 or (519) 902-0894.
Photo taken by the London Free Press.
Community Health and Wellbeing Week (September 30 to October 6) emphasizes the need to shift the conversation about health and healthcare. Across Ontario, 108 community-governed primary healthcare organizations will highlight the urgent need for a more comprehensive approach to improving the health of individuals, families, and entire communities. The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) provides a measure of our quality of life based on 8 domains and how they affect our health and wellbeing. Each day this week, this blog will highlight one or two of the categories.
The 8 Domains of Wellbeing are education, community vitality, democratic engagement, environment, healthy populations, leisure and culture, living standards, and time use.
Time use is about how we use our time. You can boost your health by limiting your hours of work to 50 hours per week, seeking flexible work hours, reading to your children and participating in volunteer and leisure activities.
Darshana, a volunteer mentor worked for the past year with Sarb as part of the Ethno-Racial Youth Mentoring Program at the London InterCommunity Health Centre. Sarb wanted support to improve her English skills. Darshana goes with Sarb to the library frequently to look at books and discuss words and their meaning. Darshana has also supported Sarb by going with her to English Conversation Circles and by downloading an application on her phone that translates English words into Sarb’s native language. Sarb asked Darshana how long she would be her friend, and Darshana replied “we will be friends forever.” This is a story of how volunteerism can decrease isolation, increasing feelings of safety, knowledge of community resources, and the development of social networks and supports, all which strengthen community vitality.
Living standards is about whether family incomes are going up or down, whether unemployment is on the rise or not and how this affects our health and wellbeing. A low or limited income affects what type of food we eat, whether we can afford a roof over our heads, where we live and can affect what types of activities we have access to.
While working with a group of Karen women on English literacy skills, they expressed an interest to increase their financial literacy to the Community Development Worker at London InterCommunity Health Centre. Some basic financial knowledge that may be taken for granted by most people in Canada was quite unfamiliar to this group of newcomers from Myanmar. After just one three hour workshop with Karen speaking participants, they requested a follow-up workshop a month later. The participants expressed significant knowledge acquisition and ability better manage their financial affairs as a result of the information that they received through the workshop.
Leisure and culture is about spending time with friends and family in leisure, art or cultural activities. You can increase your health by walking with a friend for 10 minutes three times per day, by visiting your local park to enjoy nature, by volunteering with local sports or culture organizations.
The Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) provides both contemporary and traditional healing services to Aboriginal individuals living in Southwest Ontario. The Traditional Healing program is based on a holistic concept of wellbeing that includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of health. Some services in this program include private sessions with our traditional healers, medicine walks and medicine making, traditional language lessons, sweat lodges, drumming circles and a tobacco cessation program focused on keeping tobacco sacred. In this way, SOAHAC provides culturally relevant services that are essential to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal community members.
A typical success story involves a member of the Oneida Nation of the Thames who was overweight for most of his teen and adult life, at his heaviest 260 lbs. Through eating a healthy diet, being active and tending to the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of wellbeing, he was gradually able to lose 110 lbs and has successfully maintained his weight. The greatest part of his success came from incorporating traditional aboriginal teachings to heal not only his body, but also his mind and spirit. He recently completed a 21.1 k run and has been approached by numerous community organizations to share his inspirational story and help others along their journey toward holistic health and wellbeing.
The Healthy Populations domain looks at the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of the population by looking at different aspects of health status and certain determinants of health.
The Woodstock and Area Community Health Centre (WACHC) has been involved with the Oxford Garden Fresh Box since its inception in June 2011. It started off with 2 major partners, the Ingersoll Strategic Plan Revitalization group: Health & Environment Subcommittee and the WACHC, with sales starting at 36 boxes. In October of 2012 the Woodstock & District Developmental Services (WDDS) joined the partnership and took over the purchasing, pick-up and sorting of boxes, among other activities. Since April of 2012 the sales of boxes have gone up to 156 boxes in March of 2013! What makes this project particularly unique is the multiple benefits to the community and the example of what can be accomplished when community partners work together to make a difference. It is a win-win project for everyone involved! Anyone can purchase a Garden Fresh Box.
The environment is vital to our wellbeing and our ability to thrive into the future. Our awareness of, and concern for, the sustainability of the environment is reflected in the ways we as individuals and communities influence and interact with our surroundings. The environment domain also explores how environmental goods and services touch our everyday quality of life.
In partnership with the YMCA – Camp Queen Elizabeth, the London InterCommunity Health Centre provided an opportunity for families who are experiencing financial barriers to send their children to a week long summer camp at a portion of the cost. The campers and their families were assisted to prepare physically and emotionally for this camp experience. Preparation included packing bags with flashlights, sleeping bags, and a lot of bug spray as well as being away from parents for a week. Upon arrival the campers raved about the water, hills and the number of trees – the great outdoors. The camp experience promoted healthy living, skills development, creativity and connections to the environment.
Democratic Engagement measures the participation of citizens in public life and in governance; the functioning of Canadian governments with respect to openness, transparency, effectiveness, fairness, equity and accessibility; and the role Canadians and their institutions play as global citizens.
Indeed, to sustain a democratic society, democratic engagement is a must.
As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” Indeed, in Woodstock, Ontario, this is precisely what is happening. When citizens become democratically engaged by participating in political activities, expressing political views, and fostering political knowledge, they take ownership over their communities, working actively to support building a well and healthy place to live, work and grow.
People and local health organizations are working together in an effort to help thousands of people across Ontario who are suffering pain and infection as the result of a lack of oral care. As part of an Ontario-wide campaign, Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman was presented with 382 signed postcards urging the Ontario government to provide better dental care to those who cannot afford it. “We see many adults at the Woodstock and Area Community Health Centre who are urgently seeking dental care but there are no accessible programs. We can’t help them. Many people have no choice but to go the hospital emergency room – they can get painkillers but no treatment,” said Chair of the Board Jason Smith.
A recent study by Public Health Ontario found that one in five Ontarians are unable to afford to visit a dentist. Approximately one-third of Oxford County residents do not have any dental benefits. In 2006, 26,000 people in Ontario visited emergency rooms in hospitals for oral health emergencies.
By working together through the Ontario Oral Health Alliance, concerned citizens, public health units, community health centres, aboriginal health access centres, community family health teams, dental coalitions and social service agencies are calling for “affordable, accessible oral health programs for all limited-income children and adults in Ontario.”
The second domain to be featured in the series is community vitality. Community vitality looks at the social relationships that foster individual and collective wellbeing. A vital community is inclusive, safe, nurtures a sense of belonging, and is able to adapt and thrive in the changing world. The neighbourhood one lives in affects the quality of life for individuals and families.
The Central Community Health Centre operates a Mobile Unit to provide health promotion and primary care within the communities of Central Elgin, Southwold Township, and St. Thomas. Programs and services such as foot care, blood pressure clinics, oral health initiatives, and flu shots are brought to local rural communities to ensure that people get the care they need. The mobile unit also attends community outreach dinners and homeless shelters with a nurse practitioner and health promoter to provide health care and education where people need the care.
During the first tax season that South East Grey Community Health Centre was open (2012), the Centre started receiving calls from community members needing assistance to complete their income tax and benefit return. Limited local resources were available for the program, so the Centre contacted Canada Revenue Agency to partner on the Community Volunteer Income Tax program (CVITP). The Centre recruited local volunteers who were able to assist people using the CVITP and launched the program in February 2013. Since launching, we have assisted 32 individuals with low income and simple tax returns. This allows people to access benefit programs from the government, such as the Child Tax Benefit.
The first domain to be featured in the series is education. Education is a strong predictor of wellbeing and quality of life. Educational achievement is linked to higher levels of wellbeing, especially among adolescents, and helps to give individuals the tools they need to participate in social and economic life. Education is a process that extends beyond schooling; it begins before school age and continues into adult and lifelong learning.
Thames Valley District School Board and Child, Youth and Family team at the London InterCommunity Health Centre have been participating in a pilot project at Montcalm Secondary School. “Discover Your Possibilities” is a program that increases resiliency in specific students at the school by connecting them with community supports, in particular the Youth Outreach Workers. Students were selected by the school as youth who were not performing well academically and were also facing concerns in the community. The program provides the youth the opportunity to participate in activities outside of school to encourage them to push beyond their comfort zone and to increase their self-esteem. The program consists of two activities per month, one within the classroom and one out of school activity such as a high-low ropes challenge course, an internal/external assets profile, and animal therapy. Over the course of the program, students are encouraged to begin seeking opportunities outside of those offered directly within the program. By engaging more deeply with their community, the students have shown improved social and emotional abilities and skills.
This blog was written by Henry Eastabrook, an outreach worker and advocate with the Health Centre’s program for people who are homeless. He is also a long-time resident of London’s Old East Village. Henry has mailed this letter to Mr. Fontana and Mr. Orser and has submitted it to the London Free Press as an opinion piece.
I could not help but write to you after seeing both my city counselor and then the mayor of our city visiting an alley last week, as seen on CTV London. While I appreciate the enthusiasm you expressed for improving this part of the city, I am also upset that you both really missed the real issue. I am also not happy that you have focused on one East end neighbourhood and fail to mention that this issue is happening all over our city right now.
My wife and I have owned a home in the old East Village for 29 years. We raised our kids here and now our kids are raising their kids here too. We have seen what happened when the small, mom and pop-type industries of the old East end closed their doors, along with McCormick’s and others: people whose families were sustained for generations by these industries lost their livelihoods. Many of these families, 25 years later, have not recovered. Just like in other parts of our city, many of the old working families out here in London East have become stuck. They have had more than their fair share of difficulties, including poverty and alcohol and drug use, some of which has shown up in that alley way you both went into with the CTV reporter.
What was missed in the news coverage was that the situation in that alleyway is a symptom of the displacement and alienation people feel when they get stuck. Instead of pointing a finger at such people as “the Problem”, we Londoners need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves how we can sit by complacently while people suffer.
There is a better way to help this situation Joe and Steve, rather than blame the victims of our continuing economic (and social) downturn. We could start by being compassionate and understanding. Part of this, I think, would call for the City to set up a supervised injection service, wherever issues like this exist. Then we would have none of our vulnerable neighbours injecting drugs in alleyways. I’d like you, as our municipal politicians to give this serious thought.
We already have a Drug Strategy here Joe and Steve – it’s called London CAReS. It was developed a few years ago by Londoners, including city staff and politicians. All that’s needed is to revise the Strategy a bit to include supervised injection services. This would effectively clean up the streets and alleys of the affected areas of the city AND it would provide some compassion for people who are so lost they have to do drugs in Fanny Goose’s alley.
I would love to chat with you about this Joe and Steve. My contact information will be in the hard copy version of this letter which I have mailed to you.
Best wishes to both of you and thanks for reading my letter.