EFry to Host Symposium Addressing Women's Safety in Emergency Shelters

VANCOUVER, Nov. 2, 2011 /CNW/ - On November 15, 2011, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver (EFry) will host a Symposium on Effective Shelter Design to Promote the Safety of Women and Families at Vancouver's Morris J. Wosk Centre from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The first Canadian event of its kind, the Symposium will bring together experts from every aspect of shelter design and operation to explore the issues and work towards the development of concrete, cost-effective solutions.

"Women and children make up a growing portion of our homeless population," says Shawn Bayes, EFry's executive director. "Unfortunately, their safety needs are often not met in co-ed shelters, and as a result, women may decline shelter services even when they desperately need somewhere to go."

EFry operates three emergency shelters for women and children in the Lower Mainland and is a strong proponent of gender-specific shelters. Despite growing numbers of female homeless, men still make up the bulk of the homeless population. For cost reasons, shelters are often designated for men or are co-ed.

"Shelter operators have the best of intentions, but there are currently no industry-wide design standards, operational policies or staff training requirements in place," says Bayes. "We believe that by connecting people involved in every aspect of shelter design and operation, we can collaboratively identify cost-efficient opportunities to improve safety and explore some alternatives to traditional shelters as well."

The Symposium will include the perspectives of architects, shelter operators, clients, academics and members of government. Operated on a break-even basis, Symposium registration is open to anyone wishing to contribute to the conversation about how to ensure B.C. has safe shelters women feel comfortable using.

"Coming out of this process, we will create a report outlining our findings and recommendations," Bayes says. "This report will be shared with policy makers and Symposium participants, and will be available on EFry's website."

For more information or to register for the Symposium, visit http://www.elizabethfry.com/symposium/.

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver is an independent organization providing support services to women, girls and children at risk of involvement, involved in or affected by the justice system. Its programs work to break the cycle of poverty, addiction, mental illness, homelessness and crime.

SOURCE Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver

For further information:

Karen McCluskey
EFry Media Relations
Cell: 778-319-0149

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