A Walk in Other’s Shoes is returning to this year’s Week of Action Against Poverty. This challenge is being undertaken by individuals in the community who have interests within the health field. Participants have been asked to attempt to stay within a social assistance benefits’ budget. A single person on Ontario Works would receive $337 monthly for all of their personal needs and $384 for all of their shelter costs. Because participants cannot replicate the housing conditions realistically, shelter costs are not included within this challenge. For the five day challenge, participants will have $11 daily to cover all food and drink, entertainment, some personal supplies and transportation costs. Each day, every participant will be given a challenge card which will reveal an unexpected challenge to be completed before the end of the day.

A Walk in Other’s Shoes is not a competitive challenge. It is a challenge that raises awareness of the hurdles that people living on social assistance face daily. As we within our community develop our own understanding, we can begin to reduce the barriers that they encounter and ultimately increase opportunities for increased prosperity for all. The challenge takes place February 10th-14th, 2018.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

I reflect on the irony of blogging, on a computer, connected to the internet, as I prepare to embark on the $11/day challenge.

I've started my day with a yoga class. No gym or studio membership required - I download podcasts for a subscription fee of $0.25 a day. On the face of it more affordable than going out to a class, but ...

When I was poor, I didn't have a computer. Or internet. It was a long time ago, and those things barely existed or were just in their infancies. Neither did the flip phone - never mind the smart phone. But I know I wouldn't have been able to afford any of them. Yet another of the many things I take for granted these days ...

My first challenge is ironic. "It is a special occasion. Plan an outing with friends. You need to pay for yourself." In fact, today I am scheduled to entertain a group of my friends in my home with a gourmet dinner. My original menu plan had centered around Beef Wellington. That is no longer on the table. It's the morning of, and I'm struggling to figure out how I'm going to do this within my $55 budget for the week. But I'm determined to see what is possible, and how my friends respond. I keep trying to remind myself that it's about the friendships and the time we spend together, rather than impressing them with the product or the presentation. I'll let you know how that goes.

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