Oxford County councillors to review accomplishments of Social Planning Council of Oxford

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An agency that prides itself on giving a voice to those who often don’t have one will be presenting their latest accomplishments to Oxford County Council for review Wednesday morning.

The Social Planning Council Oxford (SPCO) will be petitioning county council for their continued support requesting $55,000 to use in their 2017/18 operating budget, an amount equal to what they previously received in their previous budget.

Oxford County resident Tracey Rhea, who is a member of the Oxford Poverty Action Coalition and a volunteer with SPCO, said working with the organization has made her feel like “I am a person and I am not invisible.”

“The SPCO has made a difference in my life and the lives of others living in poverty,” she wrote in a statement included in the County Council report. “For the impoverished in Oxford County, they may believe they have no voice, but the SPCO is here to ensure they do.”

The organization has been very active in the recent years including releasing several reports including Food for Change: From Charity to Dignity, Challenging the Myths: Refugees in Canada and their latest, Youth Voice Report: Mental Health and Suicide.

Other projects include an impact study presented to Tillsonburg council on how affordable T:Go transportation had improved the quality of the lives of community members.

The SPCO also co-chairs the Oxford Oral Health Access committee, which has successfully obtained a grant from United Way to hire a co-ordinator, conducted a series of interviews on predatory lending and supported a homelessness demonstration last Aug. 20 in Museum Square.

They also hosted a series of community conversations about hunger in Oxford County and a report, about next steps that can be taken to decrease hunger, is set to be released shortly.

They also responded to community requests and facilitated a group to petition Woodstock City Council to consider implementing a lower fare for city buses in order to make them more accessible for low-income community members.

While the request was denied, Farrar said the SPCO is continuing to work to make transportation more affordable.

The SPCO, who have been partially funded by county council since 2014, has scaled back its budget this year from $187,500 to $68,500 due to a glitch with the Canadian Revenue Agency.

“We applied for charitable status. Unfortunately for reasons outside of our control, we are still awaiting a response from the Canadian Revenue Agency,” said SPCO executive director Ashley Farrar. “The board is very disappointed since we had lots of ideas for projects but we couldn’t apply for funding without charitable status. We are continuing to move forward with the anticipation that charitable status will be received some time in 2017.”

HRivers@postmedia.com 

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