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When Home Isn't a Safe Place: IHO's COVID-19 Update

To our valued supporters,

I hope that you and your loved ones are managing through the COVID-19 pandemic. Our thoughts are with each of you as we all work together to get through this challenging time. This newsletter was created before coronavirus was declared a pandemic. As you read about the housing crisis we are currently facing here in Ottawa, I want to emphasize that this issue is more important than ever before. We've seen the world come to a halt, including movement through the housing system that so many of our women rely on. Longer stays due to delays will result in more women being turned away from shelters across our city.

In these difficult and unprecedented times, the coronavirus is affecting how everybody lives, especially those experiencing abuse. Countries around the globe are already reporting a dramatic increase in domestic violence reports, and Women’s shelters in our city and across the province are beginning to see signs of this here. Being forced to self-isolate with an abuser is tough enough, but when coupled with the added financial and emotional stress this pandemic has brought, the risk of abuse skyrockets.

Here at IHO, we continue to work around-the-clock to provide essential support and care to women and their dependents who are fleeing abuse. Through some creative modifications, we've been able to keep our services operational. Shelter beds are full, our crisis line remains available 24/7, kids are staying busy with our Child & Youth team, and community clients are being supported through phone or video.

As of March 24, our costs due to COVID-19 have already surpassed $10,000, and we know they will continue to rise. Purchases such as pre-packaged meals to continue providing healthy meals for families while our cooking staff is limited, and tablets that give women the means to connect digitally with important community services like counselling have dipped into our emergency fund and will likely continue to do so for months to come.

Many generous and thoughtful donors, like you, have called or emailed us asking how you can help. It was a difficult call to make, but for safety reasons, we have had to limit volunteers and in-kind donations at the shelter. Right now, a monetary donation would be the most effective way to provide support and services to women and children fleeing violence. Every dollar counts:

  • $25 provides a woman with one hour of counselling or support services

  • $50 provides a family with dinner for a week

  • $111 provides a woman with one day of safe shelter, counselling, meals & support

In this extraordinary time, we appreciate the understanding of our clients and the community. We know many families are struggling, but if you are able, our community’s vulnerable women need you now more than ever. Your generous support in this time of need will ensure that our essential activities are able to continue.

Thank you for your continued support.

Keri Lewis

Executive Director

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