Two groups that need a hand up in society will be working together to promote youth employment and service to the elderly.

Elder Abuse Prevention in Muskoka and the Lake Country Community Legal Clinic are partnering to create the Roots in Common program. It aims to help low-income seniors who need help in their day to day lives while living independently and getting youth and those identified as precarious workers engaged with helping seniors.

The first step, says Susan Campbell, a community legal worker with the clinic, is to get research done and in an interesting twist, they will be using peer researchers. That means employing some of the youth to lead surveys with others in a similar situation, and another group to survey seniors to gather information about their needs.

“We want people who have experienced that to become peer researchers,” she explains.

About forty people will be hired, paid $15 per hour for their training time and for conducting surveys. About half the researchers will be youth and precarious seasonal workers. The issue with some seniors, says Campbell, is the assumption they have a home they own and can continue to live there.

“Not everybody who is aging has those resources available,” she concludes.

She says the problem with youth and precarious workers has a lot to do with the seasonal nature of jobs available. “Some of the problems with employment have to do with precarious work – seasonal work, problems youth have with getting employment,” says Campbell. Underemployment has been a consistent problem in Parry Sound and Muskoka Campbell says, referring to her 28 years in the region and what she has seen first hand.

There will be some training for the peer researchers beginning in October. While they will be relying on the researchers to gather the information, they also want the researchers to incorporate their own experiences into the project.

The other information being gathered is identifying potential problems in getting a youth worker into the type of work being described. “What skills and barriers do people have to being unemployed?” Campbell also asks.

Once the research portion is done, the next step is to move to get youth workers paired with seniors to help with in-home challenges and assist them in aging at home. Any community member interested in becoming a peer researcher should contact the Lake Country Community Legal Clinic, 705-645-6607 and ask for Meghan (ext. 33) or Susan (ext. 25).