The program provides a low-barrier, supportive drop-in space for women and children between the hours of 6:00 and 9:00 on Friday evenings, and 5:00 to 8:30 on Saturday and Sunday evenings. A hot, nutritious meal is included, and the activities are led by the wishes of the participants themselves. Two facilitators who have training in counselling are present each night to welcome participants and guide the activities, and can provide both one-on-one and group support if that is what the women feel they want.
The program fills an important gap in services for women who need a place to feel safe, get a hot nutritious meal, warm up on cold evenings, or simply spend time in the company of other women as the city quiets down for the weekend. The program’s beginnings came out of the findings of the Repairing the Holes in the Net research project recently conducted by the Yukon Status of Women Council, which identified evening drop-ins with a hot meal for women and children-only as a gap in services.
The low-barrier nature of the program allows women to come at any point that they feel they need to, rather than having any expectation that they be in a particular kind of frame of mind – provided that they are not a risk to themselves or others. If the women have other needs that cannot be filled by the A Safe Place facilitators, they are referred to other services around the city.
A Safe Place has been able to operate for the past seven months thanks to the support of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Women’s Directorate and the United Way. Women who attend really value the program and say there is nothing to take its place should we have to close it. Unfortunately, that funding will be running out at the end of July, and as of yet no other funding has been secured. As such,
A Safe Place is putting forward a call to the community for short-term support while other longer-term funding options are explored and (hopefully) secured. Poverty, lack of secure housing, and other forms of social exclusion are complicated problems that require multi-faceted, thoughtful responses. While A Safe Place does not seek to be a solution to any of these issues, it does provide an immediate service that meets a demonstrated need for support and safety for women on weekend evenings. The $6000 operating costs we are hoping to raise for the month of August will cover the wages of the facilitators, food, supplies for personal care and activities, and a small sum to the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre for the after-hours use of their space. Please consider donating to our campaign. Any amount would be helpful.
We also welcome donations in the form of food, coffee/tea and hygiene products such as toilet paper, soap, tampons and pads.
If you have ideas to share about possible long-term funding sources for this program, please get in touch with Larisse at the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre.
Donations can be dropped off or mailed to VFWC, 503 Hanson St., Whitehorse, YT, Y1A 1Y9. A charitable receipt can be issued for amounts over $20.00. Thank-you for your generosity. Larisse MacdonaldProgram Coordinator
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