Category Archives: Press Releases

FAMILY SERVICE PEI’S FINANCIAL TOOLKIT “IT’S YOUR RIGHT” NOW AVAILABLE IN PEI PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Trina O'Brian Leggott, Chief Librarian at the Confederation Centre Library receives the "It's Your Right" toolkits in March 2015.

Trina O’Brian Leggott, Chief Librarian at the Confederation Centre Library receives the “It’s Your Right” toolkits in March 2015.

Family Service PEI (FSPEI) is pleased to announce the It’s Your Right- Protecting Yourself Financially As You Age toolkit is now available through the PEI Public Library service.

Over the past year FSPEI has worked with PEI seniors to create a toolkit that addresses the financial needs of the PEI aging population. The toolkit is designed around 8 core topics:  Who can you trust; Lending, giving, donating; Having a conversation about money; Scam and Frauds; Tips and safeguards; Planning for the future; Financial abuse; and Getting help.

“When you create such a resource, the questions is always, how do you get in the hands of as many people as possible in a cost effective manner?” Says Ellan Dickieson, Education & Outreach Specialist with FSPEI. 

 Although the toolkit is fully hosted on the Internet, FSPEI understands that not everyone has access to, or is comfortable retrieving the information online. Many people would prefer to have the hard copy to read.

 This has been made possible through the PEI Public Library Service, which now has numerous copies which will be on display in public libraries available for loan. 

“Having the toolkit in our public libraries will be beneficial to those living in smaller communities around the province, especially seniors,” said Minister of Tourism and Culture Robert Henderson. “The project is relatively new and some senior populations may not be aware of the toolkit and how it can help improve financial literacy. This especially useful for seniors who cannot access the digital toolkit online.”  

The It’s Your Right project is unique in the sense that it is designed to educate and empower the senior themselves, encouraging them to utilize available resources to take a pro-active approach to protecting themselves financially as they age. Although designed primarily for seniors, this toolkit contains information which is relevant to all Islanders, young and old alike.

FSPEI encourages all seniors and Islanders to take advantage of the information provided through this toolkit by visiting their local library, attending a training session, or visiting www.ItsYourRight.ca.

 “Learning is a life long process, and so is managing money,“ says Dickieson.

Family Service PEI is a local not-for profit, charitable organization, offering therapeutic counselling and credit counselling services to all Islanders. The organization is an accredited member of Credit Counselling Canada. This project was originally made possible through the Government of Canada New Horizons for Seniors Program.

FINANCIAL LITERACY MONTH

November 1st marked the official launch of Canada’s third annual Financial Literacy Month (FLM). Financial literacy means having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions. This year’s FLM puts the focus on learning or brushing up on the basics of money management at any age.

As a not-for profit organization offering free credit counselling, Family Service PEI meets people of all ages who are looking to improve their financial literacy.Being financially responsible is something that continues throughout the lifespan. However, this task is proving to be difficult in today’s consumer driven society. Family Service PEI believes the difficulty can be partially attributed to the accessibility of credit and the relative lack of available information about the consequences of misusing credit.

The average level of personal debt in Canada rose 21 per cent this year to $15,910, according to a survey done this August for Royal Bank of Canada. The third annual RBC debt poll only measures non-mortgage debt such as credit cards, lines of credit and loans.

Family Service PEI’s statistics from the past year indicate the average amount owing on all consumer debt for new clients is $29,899. This does not include mortgages, vehicle loans, student loans, or any other secured debt. They estimate that 90 percent of clients coming through the door are doing so because they are in financial crisis. “Many clients do not have the skill set to identify how to live within their means, or identify the warning signs that they are headed for crisis,” says Denise Lockhart, Executive Director of Family Service PEI.

Reaching out for help is a step in the right direction. If any of the following applies to you, it may be time to take that step:

–       You do not have a budget

–       You do not know where your money is going

–       You are frequently using credit

–       You do not have money left at the end of the month

Family Service PEI is a not-for-profit agency providing free Credit Counselling to all Islanders, helping people to examine all options for decreasing debt, including an analysis of lifestyle and spending habits in order to help people understand the warning signs that a financial crisis may be looming. Additionally, Family Service PEI provides affordable and effective Therapeutic Counselling services to Islanders as financial stress impacts many other areas of a person’s life.

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For more information on this subject, or to schedule and interview, please contact Denise Lockhart – Executive Director, Family Service PEI at 1-902-892-2441 or via email: directoratfamilyservicedotpedotca

PEI FAMILY SERVICE AGENCIES LOSE NETWORK PARTNER AS FAMILY SERVICE MONCTON CLOSES DOORS

Family Service PEI and the Catholic Family Service Bureau are saddened to hear of the demise of Family Service Moncton, a key community agency supporting families and individuals through counselling services. The agency also helped families deal with the many challenges of contemporary family living by offering Family Education programs, and specialized in the delivery of employee assistance programs to local and regional businesses and governments.

“It is very unfortunate to see such essential services being discontinued,” remarks Denise Lockhart, Executive Director of Family Service PEI, “There are many individuals and families in the Moncton area who have just lost their access to services that have the ability to both prevent personal crises while improving mental health and daily functioning.”

In addition to individuals and families losing essential services, family service agencies in Atlantic Canada have also lost a member of their team. Both PEI based organizations were partnered with Moncton through a regional supportive network, working together to increase best practice and meet the needs of local communities.

Despite the demise of Family Service Moncton, local service here in PEI has not been impacted, as there continues to be two strong community-based family service agencies in the province who work together to meet the needs of individual’s, families and small business employee assistance needs. Additionally, there are three agencies throughout New Brunswick and two in Nova Scotia, all of which provide a range of critical services in their community.

“It is always disappointing to see a partner agency discontinue service. We have worked very closely with Family Service Moncton over the years and we will greatly miss the expertise of their team members and their contribution to our network,” says Peter Mutch, Executive Director of Catholic Family Services Bureau. “Although they were a key agency in our network, we will continue to work together locally, and regionally, to share and promote the use of best practice interventions with our clients and within our communities.”
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For more information on this subject, or to schedule an interview, please contact either Denise Lockhart or Peter Mutch, as listed above.

June 15th – WORLD ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS DAY

The Realities of Elder Financial Abuse

The United Nations (UN) has designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). The day aims to focus global attention on the problem of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of elders. As a not-for-profit, community based agency offering therapeutic counselling and credit counselling, Family Service PEI (FSPEI) has come in direct contact with numerous seniors who are victims of abuse. “Financial abuse is the most reported form of elder abuse,” explains Denise Lockhart, Executive Director of FSPEI. “It is happening all around us, and as a society we need to recognize the warning signs and know where to go for help.”

Financial abuse can involve illegally or improperly using a person’s money, assets, or property without the person’s permission or knowledge. It is often a form of theft or fraud. Examples of financial abuse include: pressuring for money, goods or property; using property or money without the person’s knowledge and consent; and misusing a power of attorney.

According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, the elderly are an attractive target. Persons over the age of 50 control over 70% of the nation’s wealth and often do not realize the value of their assets (particularly homes). Additionally, the elderly are viewed as less likely to take action against their abusers as a result of illness or embarrassment, and culprits assume that frail victims will not survive long enough to follow through on legal interventions.

“About 80% of abuse or neglect of older adults is hidden or goes undetected. This is simply not acceptable and we need the community at large to make a personal effort to take action,” says Lockhart.

FSPEI is currently in the process of developing a webinar for all Credit Counselling Canada members on the topic of elder financial abuse. This webinar will reach Credit Counsellors across the country, providing them with the necessary skills and tools to detect and report elder abuse. “We are always happy to educate people on elder financial abuse, and we encourage community groups to reach out to us should they need more information.”

Additional information on elder abuse can be found by calling: Adult Protection 368-6717, Island Help Line 1-800-218-2885, Anderson House 1-800-240-9894, PEI Rape & Sexual Assault Crisis Centre 1-800-289-5656, Victim Services 368-4582 and PEI Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-TIPS. Or by visiting www.stopfamilyviolence.pe.ca/seniors

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For more information on this subject, or to schedule an interview, please contact Denise Lockhart – Executive Director, Family Service PEI at 902-892-2441, 902-436-9171 or via email: directoratfamilyservicedotpedotca

ISLANDERS TO RECEIVE BETTER PROTECTION UNDER AMMENDED COLLECTION AGENCIES ACT

Family Service PEI Supportive of Changes
Family Service PEI is very supportive of the Prince Edward Island Government‘s amendments to the Collection Agencies Act. These amendments were developed after consultation with industry stakeholders and the public and will limit the allowable actions of debt settlement companies, including clear guidelines on the types of fees permitted and the requirement for written contracts that are shared and agreed to by all involved parties to be in place prior to the exchange of funds of any type.

“We have seen many Island families who have worked with these Agencies. The results they received, though costly, were often less than expected and in some cases non existent. This new legislation will help to change that,” says Denise Lockhart, Executive Director of Family Service PEI.

The Government of PEI has taken its duty to protect Islanders to heart; the changes to legislation means that vulnerable debt holders will be less likely to be taken advantage of as they face the challenges associated with taking control of their finances and reducing their level of debt.

With the implementation of the new legislation comes the need for Islanders to play their part in ensuring agencies abide by the regulations. “The legislation is only effective if people come forward and report the ill practice of these Agencies. The public needs to be actively involved and notify Consumer Services, their bank, Family Service PEI or a trusted source whenever they pay for a debt reduction service that achieves anything less than the anticipated result,” says Lockhart.

When looking for options to reduce debt levels Lockhart suggests that people use local community based organizations that have a physical presence. “It is always best when you can walk into an office, sit down with the professional and talk face to face. This will help ensure you receive quality service.”

Family Service PEI is a not-for-profit agency providing free Credit Counselling to all Islanders, helping people to examine all options for decreasing debt, including an analysis of lifestyle and spending habits in order to help people understand the warning signs that a financial crisis may be looming. Additionally, Family Service PEI provides affordable and effective Therapeutic Counselling services to Islanders as financial stress impacts many other areas of a person’s life.

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For more information on this subject, or to schedule and interview, please contact Denise Lockhart – Executive Director, Family Service PEI at 1-902-892-2441 or via email: directoratfamilyservicedotpedotca

IT’S MENTAL HEALTH WEEK – WHAT PREVENTATIVE MEASURES ARE WE TAKING?

It is the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) 62nd annual Mental Health Week (MHW) with activities taking place nationwide. People from all walks of life are encouraged to learn, talk, reflect and engage with others on all issues relating to mental health and mental illness, including prevention.

“We all have mental health. Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of overall mental and physical health and well-being. But maintaining good mental health in today’s hectic and stress-filled society is a challenge,” says Peter Coleridge, National CEO, CMHA.

As a not-for-profit organization offering therapeutic counselling, Family Service PEI (FSPEI) has identified a need for preventative services, allowing people to get the help they need before their smaller issue, such as stress, escalates into a serious mental health issue, requiring medical intervention.

In an effort to bridge the gap, this past spring FSPEI initiated a group therapy program specifically for women experiencing high stress levels. “Nobody was offering group therapy, and we believed this would be the most cost effective way to provide affordable and effective counselling to PEI residents,” explains Denise Lockhart, Executive Director, FSPEI.

Unfortunately, after much promotion and marketing, the group therapy initiative flopped. Numerous people expressed interest, but indicated that they did not have the funds available to cover the $150 cost. “This failure leaves us wondering: How much money are people able and willing to invest in their mental health?” says Lockhart, “Yes, there are some people that genuinely cannot afford this program, but everyone is talking about how stressed they are, however it seems people are not willing to invest money and time in this area of their personal health and wellness.”
Nearly 12,000 adults and children on Prince Edward Island receive services from Health PEI’s Mental Health and Addictions each year. According to the statistics collected by FSPEI, stress, as indicated by clients, has consistently been the number one issue having a negative impact on their lives.

Lockhart believes that as a community we need to step up to make sure that these services are available for those people who do want to invest in their own mental health, but cannot afford to do so. “We have numerous free initiatives and programs to promote physical health and wellness and we need to move in that same direction with mental health.”

As a not-for-profit, community based agency the goal of FSPEI is to provide credit and therapeutic counselling services to all Islanders regardless of their ability to pay.

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For more information on this subject, or to schedule an interview, please contact Denise Lockhart – Executive Director, Family Service PEI at 902-892-2441, 902-436-9171 or via email: directoratfamilyservicedotpedotca

FAMILY SERVICE PEI OFFERING GROUP THERAPY

In an effort to better meet client’s needs, Family Service PEI will be offering a four week Group Therapy Program, beginning Thursday April 11th. The first group will be tailored specifically to women who are experiencing high levels of stress.

What: “Stress Management and Reduction” group therapy sessions.
Topics Covered: Coping skills, managing unhealthy thoughts, assertiveness, mindfulness, problem solving, and time management.
Where: 155 Belvedere Avenue, Charlottetown.
When: Thursday evenings from 6:30- 8:30 beginning April 11th until May 2nd.
Cost: $150 for 4 sessions

Unlike individual therapy sessions, group therapy offers participants the opportunity to interact with others with similar issues in a safe, supportive environment. Participants can try out new behaviors, role play, and engage with others in not only receiving valuable feedback and insight from other group members, but also in giving it.

Many people who have never tried group therapy before are frightened by the idea, however most people who engage in group therapy do become comfortable and familiar with the process over a short period of time. “Our therapeutic counselor Christina Campbell will be facilitating the group. Christina is extremely competent in this area and knows how to engage group participants to ensure they fully benefit from the therapeutic process,” says Ellan Dickieson, Education and Outreach Specialist.

Statistics from 2012 indicate that the number one presenting issue amongst Family Service PEI clientele is stress. “Stress transcends across the board, affecting people’s marriages, finances, parenting abilities, workplace performance and social life. It is our job to help Islanders develop action plans that target the most stressful issues in their lives. Group therapy is another vehicle which permits us to do just this, but for a reduced fee, making it more affordable and accessible for all,” says Dickieson.

Family Service PEI is a not-for-profit community based organization providing credit and therapeutic counselling services to all Islanders regardless of their ability to pay. Individuals interested in the Group Therapy Program may contact Christina Campbell at Christinaatfamilyservicedotpedotca or 902-892-2441.

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For more information on this subject, or to schedule an interview, please contact Ellan Dickieson, Education and Outreach Specialist, Family Service PEI at 902-436-9171 or via email: ellanatfamilyservicedotpedotca

FAMILY SERVICE PEI AND GREATER SUMMERSIDE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE COLLABORATE TO PROMOTE 2013 FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION WEEK

Wear Purple Business Mixer – February 13th
The 2013 Family Violence Prevention Week is February 10th-16th. In an effort to gain support from and educate the Summerside area business community, Family Service PEI(FSPEI) has collaborated with the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce (GSCC). In addition to educating GSCC members about how they can support the 2013 campaign, the GSCC will be hosting a “Purple Business Mixer” on February 13th, the official Wear Purple Day across Prince Edward Island.

Event: GSCC Purple Business Mixer
Date: February 13th, 2013
Time: 4:30-6:00pm
Location: Red Shores Raceway

Description: Participants are encouraged to wear purple to the event for the chance to win prizes. Companies are encouraged to set up their display booths with the theme in mind. Family Service PEI will be on hand to educate participant about recognizing and responding to domestic violence in their workplace.
Domestic violence used to be a “mind your own business” issue; but times have changed. FSPEI, with the assistance of GSCC, is encouraging local businesses to “make it our business”. It is important that employers understand and recognize how harassment and violence costs organizations and affects employees. When it occurs, they pay for increased sickness, absenteeism and turnover rates and reduced productivity.

In 2011 a total of 178 assaults were reported to the Summerside Police Department. Of these, 40% occurred between persons with a family/domestic relationship while 60% involved friends, acquaintances or strangers. (www.stopfamilyviolence.pe.ca)

It is time that employers, supervisors, managers, human resources and safety officers, security personnel, union representatives and co-workers recognize domestic violence, respond to it and refer victims and abusers to supports that offer help.

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For more information on this subject, or to schedule and interview, please contact Denise Lockhart – Executive Director, Family Service PEI at 902-892-2441, 902-436-9171 or via email: directoratfamilyservicedotpedotca