Understanding the Context

Speakers BureauMargaret Atwood once said that “context is all”. The Speaker’s Bureau, a project created by the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction (HRPR), is one initiative that truly captures an understanding of this statement.

The Speakers Bureau was formed to create a more realistic picture of what poverty looks like. Specifically to: “combat pervasive negative stereotypes and promote educated dialogue around the community implications and costs of poverty and social exclusion“. In turn, this encourages others to think critically about perceptions of poverty and the people who are experiencing it. To achieve this goal, the Bureau has called for “Speakers”; people who have experienced poverty or are currently struggling with it. Each Speaker goes through a program where they are trained in public speaking, while they work to create a story that captures their life experience.

The creation of this story and following presentation is a powerful experience both for those involved and those who listen. For the individual, the practice of piecing together their story can be incredibly empowering, as it is in many ways a tangible memento of their strength and resilience. For those who listen, it is an incredible opportunity for personal growth and learning. These stories provide the human feeling of the experience that reports and policy solutions simply cannot capture.

The Speakers Bureau is a great addition to any kind of training session that involves social interaction. You can book one individual to express their experience, or you can book a panel- whatever will be the most effective for your particular setting. For information about the initiative or any questions about booking, contact Celeste Licorish at c.licorish@hcf.on.ca