Learn to Include - Include to Learn (Part 1)

Resource Type: Audio Seminar || Speakers: Karasima Brands & Jane Worton
Jane Worton, Karasima Brands

 This three-part podcast series explores how to facilitate the meaningful participation of low-income individuals in leadership roles at both grassroots and more formal levels. The 1st podcast in this series uses The Quality of Life CHALLENGE as an example of including the poverty experience.

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VC IncludeHow can community collaborations facilitate the meaningful participation of low-income individuals in leadership structures and activities - both in grassroots groups and more formal roundtables? 

How can we utilize the skills that low-income residents bring to leadership roles, and assist them in building their capacity?

This, the 1st podcast in this series, uses The Quality of Life CHALLENGE as an example of including the poverty experience.

On this page you'll find:

Meet the Speakers 

Jane WortonJane Worton - Jane is the Research Director for the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria. She has a long standing interest in the inclusion of people living in low-income in poverty reduction initiatives, which is also the topic of her Master's thesis. Jane has been the primary staff support for the Quality of Life CHALLENGE's Community Action Team since its creation in 2003.

Karasima BrandsKarasima Brands - Karasima has been working with the Quality of Life CHALLENGE as their Inclusion Facilitator since 2003. Her role is to ensure the engagement of a diverse group of people who experience living on low and limited incomes. In addition, she is a long standing board member with BC’s largest non-profit housing group, the Capital Regional Housing Corporation.  

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The Quality of Life CHALLENGE 

Since 1999, the Quality of Life CHALLENGE has gathered people from all walks of life, organizations and income levels to create a sustainable quality of life for everyone in BC's Capital Region by focusing on housing, sustainable incomes and community connections.  The CHALLENGE shares information and encourages people to take action and recognizes the achievements that are being made along the way. 

Lessons learned 

Inclusion is one of the key principles addressed by the Quality of Life CHALLENGE. Some important lessons they share from their experience of fostering inclusion are: 

  1. Look at income and related barriers to participation in your movement, remove all the barriers you can and then publicize that you've done so. 
  2. Try new things. Do not be afraid to apply techniques from other experiences when addressing low-income people. 
  3. The location of a meeting really matters to people on a low-income and to those in the business sector. Consider offering opportunities to connect one-on-one instead of as a large group. 
  4. Focus your energy on plain language and action. 
  5. Realize that one low-income person does not represent all low-income people, and try to improve the diversity of people involved in your group. 

By creating guidelines and policies about inclusion, the CHALLENGE is able to ensure that it is a consistent practice when hosting events.  Their policies also understand and compensate for the costs of volunteering, and strive to balance diverse preferences. Most importantly, the development of an inclusion plan helps make sure everyone's needs are considered. An inclusion plan can address issues such as costs of transportation, dietary needs and child care. 

The CHALLENGE designs purpose into each of their meetings to ensure that they are meeting to effect change. They employ the SNACC method, which addresses:

  • Success 
  • Need 
  • Action 
  • Commitment 
  • Community 

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What is the Poverty Experience? 

The Poverty Experience is a very simple tool or way to generate dialogue amongst participants in a group in order to gain an understanding of what it is like to live with a low income. This experience has made it easier for people to take into consideration the small details - sick leave pay, public transit compensation, laundry services and more - that can have a powerful impact on a low-income person's life. 

With more thoughtful intervention, employers and organizations can make life much easier for people living on a low-income simply by considering the small details that come with such a big impact. The Poverty Experience is designed toconsider these small details and encourage thoughtful intervention.

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Inclusion in Hamilton 

The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction can identify with the lessons learned by the CHALLENGE when fostering inclusion. Through their experiences in fostering inclusion, this group has found language to be increasingly important. 

Language can play an important role when integrating low-income people into a movement once it has already started. When a group is conscious of language, it is more likely that the people involved will understand each other. 

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Links & Resources

The Quality of Life CHALLENGE - The Quality of Life CHALLENGE serves British Columbia’s Capital Region. To learn more, click here.

Inclusion at the CHALLENGE - For more information about the CHALLENGE's Inclusion Policy and the Poverty Experience, click here.

Step Inside Poverty - To read Tamarack's story about the Poverty Experience, click here.

Hamilton Roundtable on Poverty Reduction – Find the latest information about the work of the Hamilton Roundtable here.

Crescent Valley Survey Results - This June 2006 presentation summarizes the results of the community survey that took place in Crescent Valley. To read a full report on this survey, click here.

Leading to Enable: Government Engagement in Vibrant Communities Saint John - This story, written by the Caledon Institute in April 2007, tells the story of how government agencies got involved in Crescent Valley and other Saint John neighbourhoods.

Vivre St. Michel en Santé - This page contains information about the Vibrant Communities initiative in Montreal.

Le Chantier in Saint Michel: Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion - This March 2006 story by the Caledon Institute gives more details about the neighbourhood and the work being done by Vibrant Communities Montreal.

Step Up to Leadership - For a summary or to purchase a copy of the Step Up to Leadership curriculum, click here.

Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative – Learn more about the roots and activities of this neighbourhood-based organization.

Regent Park Social Development Plan - This social development plan will help guide community services and community development initiatives in Regent Park as it makes the transition from a social housing community to a mixed income, mix-use community that is integrated with adjacent neighbourhoods. 

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