Our Bridges Out of Poverty workshop here in Dunnville, Ontario (Canada) was amazing. We were sold out, and well attended with over 200 people; half members of the community and half from agencies (service providers). Really good considering the major snowstorm the day before! Attendees included our local member of provincial parliament, mayor, councillors, hospital CEO, community leaders, people who are living in poverty, students from grade school, high school, and university, and members from the faith and business communities.

The day was interactive thanks to Terie Dreussi-Smith and her excellent facilitation style. Weeks after the workshop, people still tell me how they relay Terie’s stories demonstrating the problem solving abilities of people living in poverty.

One big win was evidenced when the CEO of the hospital reported that an interaction that he had with a patient ended very differently because of what he learned at the workshop. He reported that his anticipated outcome (prior to the workshop) and the actual outcome were very different, and he was very happy with this change and the much better outcome.

A second big win is the way that police respond to theft of food. Before the workshop, it was arrest as per usual; after the workshop, officers ask if the person has enough food, and if not, they discuss where and how to get food (and basic necessities). This is a major shift in attitude and a great step in our journey.

As part of next steps, we have an event called Building a Vibrant Community to Reduce Poverty planned for March 1. The intent is to work on relationship and community capacity building, and to present a proposal for a Bridges Steering Committee. The proposed model includes open communication, flexibility, and community ownership. The Steering Committee itself will be made up of team leads from the various teams working to identify and decrease (and hopefully eliminate) barriers. Values include inclusivity, diversity, and creativity.

We now have a trained facilitator for Getting Ahead, and the first session is due to start March 4. Discussion is underway in planning how to support our GA grads in terms of regular interactive relationship building meetings.

Wendy Renault, RN Care Coordinator
Haldimand Health Link
Haldimand War Memorial Hospital and Edgewater Gardens
Dunnville, Ontario