Measuring Well-being and Poverty from the Perspective of Persons who are Poor
Stephanie Baker Collins
Participatory methods in the study of poverty invite those living in difficult circumstances to participate in an analysis of their own livelihood situation. The purpose of a Participatory Poverty Assessments is to create room where the voice of poor persons can be heard. The methodology of PPA is deliberately non-technical and accessible, using focus groups and visual methods such as mapping exercises, seasonality diagrams, and time lines. The purpose of this participatory process is to listen to persons who have experienced poverty describe their daily lives as well as their vision of a good quality of life. A participatory poverty assessment has been facilitated with a small group of women who are members of a food co-op in Niagara Falls, Ontario and who live in poverty. The women explored together issues of well-being, the importance of assets, the role of institutions, and coping strategies. Important themes which emerged included an emphasis on relationships in a good quality of life, the impact of the pervasive scrutiny of the social assistance bureaucracy, the importance of community good will and the possibilities for community action. This presentation will describe the process of the Participatory Poverty Assessment and share the results and emerging themes in a report written with the women.
Stephanie Baker Collins has worked in social research, policy analysis, public education and advocacy at both the community and the national level. She has engaged in research and advocacy at the community level in the area of social housing need, homelessness, and poverty. She has also conducted social policy research at the federal level in the areas of unemployment, tax policy, child benefit policy and federal budgetary policy. In connecting her research work with advocacy efforts, she has provided testimony before Standing Committees of Parliament, conducted community education workshops, and written for publication. Stephanie is currently an Instructor at Ryerson University teaching social policy in the Social Work Department. Her doctoral research brought together the sustainable livelihoods framework with participatory methods in a study of urban poverty.
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