Living Better on Less Program Grows with Community Partners

 on October 12, 2023

The Church of the Apostles’ Living Better on Less Program is expanding with support from community partners, launching a new program targeting seniors in partnership with the Elliott Community Centre and a program for youth with Wyndham House. This is being completed through a partnership with the Guelph Tool Library to deliver the programming.

Living Better on Less coordinator John Dennis explained that “these strategic partnerships are helping us deliver the program to new audiences and address specific needs in the community. The program has always had a diverse group of participants such as new moms, recent retirees, neuro-divergent adults living in group homes, and those simply curious about the program. The current focus is to target specific audiences and address their needs.”

The Living Better on Less Program consists of a series of six free sessions that teach different skills to participants about having less of an environmental impact and living on a fixed budget. The program puts an emphasis on personal growth and assessment. Each participant takes a different approach to the material to best suit their circumstances. They are led by a facilitator who brings in guest speakers and works with the participants in small groups and classroom settings.

The church received grant funding to create a Living Better on Less Program for Seniors and to teach two sessions. The program will cover such diverse topics as health issues for seniors, fraud awareness, coping with loss, and cognitive decline. The church has partnered with the Elliott Community Centre who will host the program and provide us with free space to undertake the sessions. The program is supported by a New Horizons for Seniors grant. The goal will be to deliver two sessions in October and January 2024.

Robin Smart, public education coordinator with the Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington wrote in a letter of support for the program stating that the “Living Better on Less Program will deliver opportunities that encourage greater social inclusion, volunteerism, and community engagement for seniors. The senior program will encourage seniors to connect and link with peers while engaging in creative learning opportunities.”

The Living Better on Less Program for Youth is funded through a United Way Community Recovery Services Fund. This program is being delivered in partnership with Wyndham House, a local youth shelter. The program will have a focus on unhoused youth and the struggles that they face in Guelph. The program will feature lessons guiding participants on healthy eating, mental well-being, employment, and finances. The youth program will run sessions in November 2023 and February 2024 at the Wyndham House Hub located in downtown Guelph.

Living Better on Less coordinator John Dennis added that “the program will create a Youth Advisory Committee of four people who will consult on the curriculum and mentor other participants in the classes. These mentors will receive an honorarium for their work and an opportunity for employment through the Guelph Tool Library’s Circular Store.”

The Living Better on Less Program began in 2008 as an outreach program of the Church of the Apostles in response to Bishop Michael Bird’s call for churches in the diocese to respond to the housing crisis and high unemployment. The program was created by Ann Chidwick and has run over 25 sessions with about 650 participants since its inception. Living Better on Less has also run successful pop-up sessions with an additional 500 participants at community events.

Ann Chidwick stated that the “Living Better on Less program is for everyone. We cannot continue to live an extravagant lifestyle without having further impact on our world environment. Expanding the programme to seniors and youth is a natural growth, particularly when they will be held in those groups’ present communities. To learn new ways to economize and live more simply will increase feelings of well being, Living Better on Less. As Christians we need to live this call.”

Liam Cameron was the community outreach assistant at the Church of the Apostles funded through a Canada Summers Jobs Grant.

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