Michelle Hurtubise, the executive director of the London InterCommunity Health Centre, speaks at the launch of the London Poverty Research Centre at King’s College in London, Ont. Photo courtesy of King’s College University

King’s joins in poverty research project

  • April 30, 2014

The solution to local poverty could be online. London, Ont.’s King’s University College has joined the the London Poverty Research Centre in opening a virtual hub to address and ultimately end poverty in the city.

The centre is a collaborative event with multiple partners and funders, spearheaded by the Sisters of St. Joseph and the London Food Bank. It has its own volunteer task force. Faculty and students from King’s will be academic partners, providing research and data from the School of Social Work, Economics, Social Justice & Peace Studies, Religious Studies and Sociology. In turn, this is an educational opportunity for faculty and students at the university.

“Our faculty will work very closely with the foundation to look at particular research questions related to poverty, and about 28 of our faculty have already expressed an interest in working with the centre,” said Sauro Camiletti, academic dean at King’s.

The purpose of the centre “is to establish a repository of information that can be accessed by anyone in society who’s interested in viewing it,” he said.

“It can shape policy to help people that are living in poverty or at least to formulate policy that will improve the conditions for people that are in challenging situations.”

The poverty centre will focus resources on three main areas: precarious employment, food security and mental health and homelessness.

“There are many aspects of poverty in the London area that we don’t really have information about,” said Camiletti. The hope is that King’s research will help fill this gap. “For example, how many single mothers are living below a certain income level? How many homeless people need residences? Right now, the wait in some parts of Southern Ontario is up to seven or eight years for housing. What are the figures for London?” They don’t know — yet.

As a Catholic college, he added, joining the poverty research hub keeps with King’s mission to serve the community, the marginalized and the poor.

Camiletti uses the term “living research” to describe how those affected by poverty will be able to share their stories with researchers in hopes of influencing policy that could potentially improve their lives. He adds that there will be cross-disciplinary work between academics in different fields and both faculty and students will gain experience with street-level poverty.

In December 2013, the London Community Foundation announced its donation of $250,355 to the Poverty Research Centre. The web site www.povertyresearch.ca will launch in the fall.

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