Down and out in Cumberland County

Rose Willigar
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SPRINGHILL: Cumberland County has the second highest poverty rate in the province, says the Cumberland County Collective Partnerships, which hosted an awareness workshop here in Springhill.
Membership of the Cumberland County Collective Partnerships include a number of groups within Cumberland County who offer a variety of services and supports including: Addictions and Mental Health Services; Adult Education, literacy and upgrading; Culture Diversity and Social Inclusion Support; Community Services; Continuing Care; Early Childhood Development; Health Promotion; Justice; Poverty Action; Primary Health Care and Public Health Services; Sport and Recreation; Sexual Health; Social Support and Emergency Shelter; Support Programs for Parents and Families; Employment Support and Housing; Support for persons living with disabilities.
The group, spearheaded by Lisa Gower in 2004, stemmed from a desire to "connect the dots" of the various organizations to increase awareness of the services provided within the county, increase collaboration between service providers, enable strategic planning to move forward on common goals and to engage other community members in collaborative work.
According to Trudy Reid, Chronic Disease Prevention Coordinator for Cumberland County's Public Health Services Cumberland County has the highest number of families in the province living on earnings in the low to lower middle income range. About 44 per cent of all residents live in Cumberland County.
"The low to lower middle income ranges from about $10,000 to 23,000 a year," Reid said.
Organizations such as Maggie's Place and other groups have supported people to become part of Nova Scotia Food costing projects where they are trained to gather food costs of a basic bare bones nutritious diet in the grocery store, and tell their stories. This work provides hard evidence and helps to build capacity for change.
Based on food costing data done in 2004/05 to feed a family of four would cost just over $600.
During a question and answer period following guest speaker Rob Rainer (Executive Director for National Anti-Poverty Organization one question was how can someone without a fixed address get help?
"People who have no fixed address have a difficult time receiving the help they need," Rainer said.
Another woman voiced that there is a real frustration when dealing with poverty saying there a heavy burden on low to middle income families.
The local Collective Partnership has decided that poverty reduction is a priority in this county and has become the convening group for Vibrant Communities, which is about supporting communities coming together to develop a vision for change.

Organizations: Health Services, Cumberland County Collective Partnerships, Primary Health Care Nova Scotia Food National Anti-Poverty Organization Collective Partnership Vibrant Communities

Geographic location: Cumberland County, SPRINGHILL

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