Give someone a fish, you feed them for a day. Teach them to fish, you feed them for a lifetime.
Such was the message of Together Nelson in delivering the initial findings of the just completed community action strategy to reduce poverty in Nelson and area.
Marjie Lesko — Together Nelson project manager — and Malorie Moore — co-chair of the Together Nelson leadership roundtable — spoke to council at the last committee-of-the-whole meeting, explaining how the findings of the strategy will move forward with reducing the level of poverty in the community.
And, in doing so, the strategy is to let economic development and economic inclusion inspire the precepts of Together Nelson, said Lesko.
“When we are focusing on our community’s wellbeing we are taking a different approach. We are focusing less on poverty alleviating efforts and more on reducing poverty by looking at the economic wellbeing of our community and how we can support that,” she said.
That means targeting economic inclusion of those who are more vulnerable to financial hardship in the community, currently sporting a poverty level of 18.6 per cent of the population, the plan found.
“It’s not to attract people from outside of the community, it’s to support those who are here and struggling to make ends meet,” Lesko said.
Economic inclusion recognizes everyone’s right, regardless of gender, place of birth, family background, age or other circumstances, to full and fair access to economic opportunity.
Economic inclusion refers to the opening up of economic opportunities to under-served social groups and ensuring equal access to public goods and services including education, housing and transit.
“An inclusive economy is about investing in making our local economy more equitable from the bottom up, acknowledging that economic growth and inclusion is likely to be better for everyone’s pocketbooks and for our collective well-being,” noted the strategy.
Source: Together Nelson
The strategy had multi-sector input from various levels of government and non-government organizations, including people from the community.
Last year Nelson at its Best, in conjunction with the city, obtained funding to develop a poverty reduction plan for the Nelson area, titled Together Nelson.
Through the research it found two priority groups — single parent families and the working poor — the two largest groups currently experiencing poverty in Nelson. These two groups represented 1,540 people of the 2,114 people living below the poverty line in Nelson, said Lesko.
The strategy also resulted in the identification of five priority pathways to change, along with over 100 suggested actions or solutions. These suggested actions were prioritized into the top 16 broad recommended actions to effect the greatest change in reducing Nelson’s poverty rate.
But the recommendations were vague, said Coun. Rik Logtenberg.
“What I am not clear on is what are we doing today to reduce poverty? What is the lay of the land amongst the various interlocking organizations? And where are the gaps that we really want to focus on?” he asked. “It would give me a better sense of how this strategy would look when it hits the ground.”
Lesko said the strategy strives to lift 500 people out of poverty over the next four years.
“We know about single parent families and working people not making a living wage,” she said.
For instance, for “some people, just to be bumped over the line, might just need to attend a tax clinic, how to streamline their taxes and get the RSP contributions.
“But we don’t actually have a lot of detail. We can’t say ‘yep, this is exactly what it is and what they need.’ That’s where the action plans and the action streams come into play. They will dig back into the data a little more … and they will come up with an actual action plan.”
The action plans will be developed next year in the next steps.
Together Nelson goals
We will build a collective, multi-sector, community-driven effort to reduce poverty in Nelson and area.
We will reduce Nelson’s poverty rate from 18.6 per cent to 14.6 per cent which means 500 people will be lifted out of poverty.
We will contribute to the development of affordable housing units that support the needs of priority populations.
We will provide input into the development of affordable and accessible local and regional transit options.
We will support development of a coordinated and integrated network of local health and social services for improved access and navigation.
Source: Together Nelson
Year 1 (2022)
1 - Gain endorsement of the community action strategy from key local government representatives and community leaders by securing sign off on a memorandum of agreement or partner protocols that confirm how partners will work together.
2 - Identify backbone organization to provide leadership, support collaborative efforts, focus on collective impact conditions, and continuous communication to build community will.
3 - Secure stable base of funding to support project coordination and communication efforts.
4 - Establish community leadership team to oversee and provide strategic implementation of the strategy’s priority actions.
5 - Establish community voices advisory group to consult and advise on strategic direction, priorities and activities.
6 - Establish collaborative community action teams to work on moving Pathways To Change forward by digging deeper into root causes of poverty in our community and carrying out collaborative projects that further priority action items.
7 - Create a communication plan to build community commitment and momentum by growing and keeping the community partner network and their networks connected, informed and engaged.
Source: Together Nelson