According to a 2019 report titled the Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada Barrie ranked at the bottom out of 26 major cities.
November is Woman Abuse Prevention month and Nov 25 is international day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The Women & Children’s Shelter of Barrie has been helping women who are victims of violence, sexual abuse and human trafficking.
It provides a 24 hour crisis line, counseling, resources and shelter. It has completed 40 years of existence this year. Its development manager Katie Taylor called the 40th year anniversary a bittersweet moment.
LJI Journalist Deepak talked to her to know why, what services it offers and how Barrie residents can do their part in helping the women in need.
After the report came out, the Women & Children’s Shelter of Barrie, which started in 1981, created a diverse advocacy council including Indigenous, South Asian and Black women. “We need the collective voice of all of these women to understand the full scope of experiences, because my experience will not be the same experience as your wife’s,” Katie Taylor said. “So having those voices and being able to come together to make real change and movement is part of it.”
The shelter receives 1100 calls annually on their 24 hour helpline number of 705-728-2544. Any person that has information about abuse can call and women who are abused can call as many times they want. It has 27 beds, down from 35 pre-pandemic due social distancing guidelines, that are usually always full. “We have two beds that are solely dedicated to victims of human trafficking,” Taylor said.
Running a shelter and counseling helpline needs a large sum of money. “The amount of money that we need to raise for operations is upwards of $400,000 annually,” Taylor pointed out. This pandemic has made it difficult to raise money in a traditional way. To support the shelter, people can purchase items such as T-shirts, scarves and ties from its website.
Shelter’s website also has various resources for women such as an abuse checklist and tips on leaving. However, the shelter does not tell women what to do. “We’re giving her the options. And if that woman chooses to return to the abuse, we will still be here,” Taylor said. “We will still continue to help her when she decides to reach out again.”