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Facesofnswelfare: Fighting welfare stigma through social media

Actor, writer and documentary maker Jackie Torrens, who initiated the Benefits Action Reform Group.
Actor, writer and documentary maker Jackie Torrens, who initiated the Benefits Action Reform Group. Benefits Action Reform Group

HALIFAX – Local poverty activists are launching a social media campaign tackling the stigma associated with receiving social assistance.

The Benefits Action Reform Group are using the hashtag “#facesofnswelfare.”

The social media campaign will feature photos of people known in the community who are (or were) on welfare or disability.
Each picture will also include a brief write-up of a personal experience with social assistance.

Those behind the campaign say the purpose is to break the common misconceptions some people have.

“These stereotypes are damaging. They undermine someone’s self-esteem, someone’s sense of belonging and attachment. And having to get by on $550 or $790 a month is difficult enough than when you have social attitudes of folks in your community. In terms of attachment and feeling part of a community, it’s isolating,” said Evan Coole, a member of the Benefits Action Reform Group.

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The campaign will be in full swing leading up to the Halifax march to end poverty on Oct. 17.