The goal of Bridges Out of Poverty:
To help communities to reduce the social costs of poverty, strengthen the workforce, and build a more prosperous and sustainable community. Bridges Out of Poverty provides a family of concepts and workshops to help employers, community organizations, social service agencies, and individuals address and reduce poverty in a comprehensive way. Bridges brings people from all sectors and economic classes together to improve job retention rates, build resources, improve outcomes, and support those who are moving out of poverty.
What is a Bridges Out of Poverty workshop?
It is an opportunity to explore and learn from one another. We believe that everyone has some experience, knowledge or skills when looking at the issues of poverty – for some its their own experience living in poverty, some who have worked for years with clients or learners to assist them, for others trying to create change in their communities to make the lives of those living in poverty better.
We all have our own views and values about poverty and about individuals living in poverty and our views and values may be challenged as a result of the discussions and concepts that are shared throughout the workshop. We recognize that the content and the perspective we take may make you a bit uncomfortable. We encourage each participant to talk about what is making them uncomfortable versus thinking that what they are learning is wrong. What you will be hearing/learning throughout the workshop is simply a different way of looking at information that has existed for quite some time.
The workshop offers an opportunity for all of us to look at another model on poverty with a focus on economic disparities and recognize that people are more than the labels of economic class; therefore generalizations are made.
Note the following:
- We are speaking from a middle class viewpoint because the reality is that is where our organizations – our workplaces and our communities operate from.
- We need a common foundation in order to have a collective dialogue.
- A lot of the experiences or examples heard throughout the workshop tend to reflect urban poverty more than rural poverty, which is different.
- We do not provide specifics to any one culture including First Nation, Metis and Inuit – however there are salient points that are transferable.
- These workshops are just the beginning to encourage our communities to come together and discuss poverty on common ground.
- As a result of offering hundreds of these workshops across Simcoe County, for the first time in a very long time – agencies, community members and those living in poverty are talking together collectively and wanting to make a change – together.
- Key messages of Bridges Out of Poverty reflect the Social Determinants of Health literature.
- Deeper understanding and empathy of the impact of poverty is required in order to be effective in this work.
- Many professionals have had knowledge from a professional perspective and sometimes life perspective – or their knowledge and approach comes from academia.
- Society has many bias/myths regarding poverty that need to be dispelled in order to be effective.
- Often times middle and upper class values clash with the culture of poverty.
- This model does reflect and support the World Health Organization’s Conceptual Framework for Action on the Social Determinants of Health.
What people are saying about Bridges Out of Poverty
We have been sharing the Bridges Out of Poverty concepts in Simcoe County, with the support of the Child, Youth and Family Services Coalition of Simcoe County under the direction of the Poverty Reduction Task Group since 2009. More than 5000 people have attended a full-day Bridges Out of Poverty workshop and the feedback consistently includes variations of the following statements: