Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:52 pm Post subject: Circles
Circles is a program that helps the poor families break the cycle of poverty on their own terms. The County of Lambton in Southwestern Ontario is the first level of government in Canada to try and implement it as a policy.
Lambton is forging ahead with an anti-poverty plan, even as Ontario pulls back on its own strategy. The county said this week it will add two jobs in 2009 to staff an effort to help people escape poverty. The full-time positions are part of an initiative called Circles, which will team welfare recipients with volunteers from the community.
Circles is an approached developed in Iowa and recommended to county council by a poverty task force it commissioned in 2007.
Several members of council spoke in favour it at this week's county council meeting, where the new jobs were authorized and an implementation plan approved.
“It’s probably going to be one of the legacies of this council,” said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley.
Gayle Montgomery, a supervisor with the county’s Ontario Works office, said one reason people can get stuck in poverty is they lack the social capital many in the middle class take for granted. She described social capital as, “I know a guy who knows a guy.”
The Circles model surrounds welfare recipients with volunteers who can help them tap into the social capital they need to pull themselves out of poverty.
Doug Ball, manager of social planning and program support with the county, said the Circles program is expected to be helping 75 welfare clients at a time after three years.
Eventually, officials would like to see the program expand to the working poor.
Circles is expected to cost $227,000 annually, which includes the two full-time staff positions and a purchase of service agreement with the American group that developed the program.
I brought this up at our local CPC Directors meeting and was told that Social Services are a provincial responsibility but I can't stop thinking that this program is one that either the Provincial PC or Federal CPC could really get behind. Conservatives give something like 4 times the amount of money and time to charities that Liberals and dippers do but are often looked at as unkind to the poor because we are against big wasteful spending programs. A program like this that we could promote would cost little money and because it fosters volenteerism might be a way to show the softer side of conservatism.
Federally it could help Natives and Immigrants(Fed responsibilties) break the cycle of poverty.
I have worked with the poor thru my church and it is amazing the things they have trouble with. Most can't even get a bank account so they can try to save money. I have helped poor friends find trustees, open bank accounts, find accomadation etc. and always thought that if each of these people could have 2 or 3 friends looking out for them they could live in much more comfortable circumstances.
It sounds like the old "give a man a fish feed him for a day - teach a man to fish feed him for life" scenario. This is what a Conservative social policy should look like.
Any thoughts on how to implement such a program either Federaly or Provincially would be appreciated.
I think that this is a great idea. This is the sorta thing that would help people immensley and this is the kind of social assistance I think would be great. It helps people to help themselves. Obviously there are situations where this may not work, but I think in the vast majority of cases this would be incredible to help people out. I would be interested in volunteering in this or something similar if it ever comes to rural central alberta.
Presumably, the program helps people find work? The article talks about providing access to social capital, but it doesn't say what they use this social capital for. I wonder how effective it is at getting people permanent employment.
People in poverty need help in just getting out of bed sometimes. I watched Ralph Benmergy on the CBC try to help a homeless guy get a job on one of his reports on the homeless. He did everything for the guy and the guy did not show for the interview. Of course Ralph only had a week to put into the guys life when these people may need months to reacclimatize themselves to even going to a job interview.These people are emotionally damaged from all the rejection they have received on their descent to the bottom.
What Circles does is gives them some people to lean on and rely on on their way back up the ladder. I have helped some people in my church get bank accounts and shelter. I helped a guy start his own business, loaned him monmey when he needed it. Most of all I trusted him when no one else would. It made all the difference in his life and he got out of poverty. That what they mean by social capital.
It is something the Conservative movement should jump on. Help people help themselves!
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