Being on income assistance is exhausting. To even apply for it, there’s endless amounts of paperwork and appointments. Numerous documents needs to be signed and verified and endless amounts of photocopies are needed. And then the wait begins.
If you’re employable, you are then referred to a back-to-work program. These programs vary in quality and eligibility. There are programs for people recovering from abuse or addiction, native services, disabilities, single parents, etc. Program requirements vary, but usually include re-vamping your resume, bringing your cover letter up-to-date and learning how to access the hidden job market. If you’re lucky, they also provide transit tickets, food, daycare and emotional support/workshops.
Sounds fairly straight-forward? Well, it isn’t. By the time you’re in a position where applying for income assistance is your best option, you’re probably dealing with a fair amount of stress including (but certainly not limited to):
- Lack of sleep
- Low self-esteem
- Stress on how to pay your rent, feed yourself and your kid(s), make your bill payments
- Recovering from an addiction
- Fleeing an abusive relationship
- Finding safe accommodations
- Career change
- Going back to school
As if this doesn’t sound complicated enough, there is also the possiblity of income assistance either losing your paperwork or forgetting to forward necessary documentation to the appropriate person/department, feeling bad about asking for help, not knowing that you have the right to ask for help and questioning how the hell you got here in the first place. And the list goes on.
I suppose there are people who sit on their couch, beer and/or cigarette in hand, thinking how grateful they are that they don’t have to do anything with their lives to improve it. Of the 10-months I’ve been on income assistance, I’ve not met one person who didn’t want to get off of it. And were working towards that goal, despite the odds.
So if I’m sitting on my couch staring at my disconnected TV and doing nothing, it’s because I’m so overwhelmed with the magnitude of my situation that I don’t know where to start. Not because I’m lazy.