See the Person. Be Kind. Everyone Has a Story. Take Action on Stigma and Homelessness.

Posted on Wednesday October 06, 2021

NORTH BAY, ON - Nipissing District Homelessness and Housing Partnership (NDHHP) has launched a homelessness anti-stigma campaign called See the Person. The campaign promotes kindness toward people without a place to call home and encourages community members to learn more about housing and homelessness in their community. NDHHP is a collective of local organizations that work to reduce, address, and prevent homelessness in the Nipissing District.

In the campaign, people with lived experience of homelessness, or ‘experts by experience’, share their insights and personal experiences. Jennifer Farrell, an expert by experience, says it’s simple, “See the Person. Be kind. Everyone has a story,” when discussing how people who are experiencing homelessness should be treated. “Negative attitudes and stereotypes are extremely harmful and damage a person’s self-worth. It is very challenging to face stigma while managing other challenges in one’s life. We need to work toward a more caring, inclusive community.”

Stigma results in serious mental health impacts like deep feelings of shame. It contributes to social exclusion and acts as a barrier for people to seek necessary services within their community. Farrell says, “When people are treated with dignity and respect, it opens the door for healing and a sense of belonging. That’s what everyone needs when they’re down.”

Homelessness is a complex community issue that has become increasingly visible in Nipissing District. The campaign aims to shed light on some of the key drivers of homelessness. Tawnia Healy, Community Health Promoter with North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit says, “Homelessness is often due to factors outside of a person’s control.” Factors such as poverty, lack of access to an affordable place to live, inadequate income, racism, discrimination, and impacts of childhood trauma all have a role to play in homelessness. Healy says, “It is unfair and unjust to stigmatize people for their health or housing status when the conditions for good health are simply not available to everyone.”

Through the See the Person campaign, NDHHP encourages community members to take action on stigma and homelessness through compassion, education and advocacy. Community members can watch for the campaign on social media platforms and bus ads within North Bay. Learn more by visiting www.myhealthunit.ca/housingforall

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