More than just a bed
Updated: Apr 26, 2019
Shelters for women and their dependents provide more than just a bed. In summer 2012, the Ontario Shelter Research Project compiled the findings from interviews with 68 Executive Directors, 41 staff members, and 75 clients of shelters across the province. Here's what they learned:
Shelters provide not only a safe refuge, but time and emotional support for women, and their children, to come to terms with their situations and begin to heal. The provision of care in a calm, orderly setting, and being treated respectfully were very important for women.
Shelters provide direct material support to women and children who are in need, and/or facilitate access to these after they leave the shelter.
Shelters are community hubs where women and children are connected with other services, supports and programs.
Shelters are broadly responsive to women in need, providing various kinds of education, information and counselling, enabling them, and their children, to deal with the consequences of abuse. They are flexible in when and how they provide services to allow women to heal at their own pace.
Shelters increase women's capacity to manage on their own, helping them become 'organizationally literate'. This increased capacity at the individual level contributes, in turn, to greater capacity at the community level.
The relationship with shelters helps women move forward; these connections may prevent further victimization or use of other (often more expensive) services. This ongoing link to shelter outreach services should be viewed as a success, not as "recidivism".
"There was a few people in here [shelter] that saved my life, I would not have survived without their understanding and empathy. I mean, anybody can say "you know what, you're not alone, it's ok." But it takes a special kind of person to make that stick, and they were willing to do that as many times as I needed to hear it. And that, you know, you're not this worthless piece of junk that has been discarded. You deserve to be safe. And having somebody reinforce that daily was huge for me because I'd never had it...."
Client quote from ON Shelter Research Project
IHO is able to continue our work because of the support we receive from the community. Thank you for all that you do to support us so that we can continue to help women and children in our community by providing more than just a bed.