Union Gospel Mission's Women and Families Centre Opens First Shelter Today

VANCOUVER, Feb. 6, 2012 /CNW/ - Union Gospel Mission (UGM) is pleased to announce the opening of a day-shelter for women on the Downtown Eastside (DTES). This pilot project, developed in conjunction with the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre (DEWC), a nearby emergency night shelter for women, opens at 9:00am today, on Monday, February 6, 2012.

Women's shelter beds on the DTES remain scare and there is a great need for more. And while the notion of a shelter during the day might seem odd, it is meeting a critical need. "Every morning at 9:00 am, vulnerable women, and sometimes their children, are put out on the street," explains Barbara Atkins, Manager of UGM's Women and Families Centre. "The DEWC 412 Shelter does not have the capacity to keep women inside during the day, yet many of these women are sick, elderly, or abused. Providing a safe, consistent and private place of refuge will alleviate suffering for women and children and help them take the next steps towards greater health and provision."

Through the pilot project, UGM will alter the time and structure of many of its women's programs. The purpose of the shift is to transition the Women's Centre from a drop-in model to a wrap-around model, allowing UGM to more intentionally help women move from a place of dependence and vulnerability, to independence and competency.  The wrap-around model is a woman-centred, strength-based approach where UGM identifies supportive people in a woman's life who will become a part of her wraparound team. The idea is that eventually, UGM no longer be needed in the woman's life.

The shelter will be open weekdays from 9:00 am - 6:00pm for 12 single women and possibility 1-2 families. "The women who will be seeking shelter here are those fleeing violence, unsafe housing or homelessness," says Atkins. "We are working towards many positive outcomes as a result of this-improved health, recovery, permanent housing, finding of purpose, restored relationships, and spiritual wholeness."

This pilot project is just a small fraction of what the Women and Family's Centre could offer in the future. If funding becomes available, UGM will be able to retrofit the building and staff it adequately to meet the need.  UGM is currently assessing the specific needs of the community, and exploring its continuum of care, to comprehensively address the complex health, social and economic struggles that women and children on the DTES face each day.

SOURCE Union Gospel Mission

For further information:

Contact: Keela Keeping (604) 996-1417; kkeeping@ugm.ca; Twitter: @UGM; www.ugm.ca


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