Nelson is a great place to live for many, but almost one in five residents in our community struggle to make ends meet. That’s why Voices for Change, a two-year, three-part poverty reduction project funded by Columbia Basin Trust and delivered by Nelson at its Best was launched in 2018.
The project aimed to reduce vulnerability and increase resiliency to poverty for three demographic groups found to be at a higher risk of experiencing poverty in Nelson — low-income children and their families, low-income youth, and adult low-wage earners.
Pilots to engage these three groups provided opportunities to engage socially and professionally in community, develop financial skills, and receive both cash and cash-like benefits to provide immediate, tangible relief that supported people to participate in the pilots.
Voices for Change has just been completed and has reported engaging close to 500 people living in or vulnerable to poverty, providing 1,000-plus hours of skill development, and $70,000 in the form of cash and tangible cash-like benefits to participants. Significant community support also contributed to this project’s success with 118 organizations and individuals across 11 sectors collaborating, contributing, and engaging in project planning and delivery, including local businesses, government and residents.
Participant voices speak to the project’s success with one Benefits Incubator Pilot participant reporting, “I live pay cheque to pay cheque, and this showed me that my employer sees that. This allowed me to spend money on personal products, which usually come out of my food budget.”
Another participant in the Community Café Pilot noted, “I’m simply so grateful that they were offered. I felt less lonely and was a better parent as a result. Every one I attended taught me something. Each time I walked away with new knowledge, connections, and ideas.”
A youth in the Financial Skills Builder Pilot shared, “I didn’t know about tax free savings accounts or how to optimize my credit score. I used my newfound knowledge (as well as the supplements I received) to pay off my loan and open up a savings account.”
Learn more about this project or other ways Nelson at its Best is helping to improve the quality of life in our community. www.bestnelson.org.