London needs a new center with emergency beds only for women to provide a safe space against trauma, including sexual violence, according to a new report from Mission Services of London.
“We realized that men and women cannot be together because of women’s issues – be it trauma, sexual violence, street trafficking, as well as their mental health and addiction. “said Martha Connoy, director of community and mental health programs. to missionary services.
There are 21 emergency beds for men and women in crisis at the York Street Mission for those who may have complex mental health needs and who do not have access to regular shelter beds.
“The best we could do was have separate entrances, separate dorms with no access,” Connoy said.
The report commissioned by the mission included feedback from clients, staff, senior managers, community groups, City Hall and the Local Health Integration Network.
A key recommendation from the review was that there was a real need for a female-only emergency bed location.
No place in town now offers that, said Susan Macphail, director of My Sisters’ Place with ACSM Middlesex.
“There is such a huge need. We refer women to it every day.
My Sisters’ Place, a drop-in center, is open during the day for women who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
“We see around 100 to 140 women every day and we refer a lot of women to emergency beds. So we know there is a real need for a specially designed female emergency bed location, ”said Macphail.
“A lot of times one of the main reasons women become homeless is violence and trauma, and when a woman has had that kind of experience, she really needs a space for women. She’s pretty triggered.
Emergency beds are important, Macphail said, because each person has a room to themselves and there are skilled mental health and addiction workers.
But money is a problem, Connoy said. The Mission offers more than just a place to sleep for people in crisis, it also provides advice and transitional support to help clients find long-term housing.
It only costs $ 500,000 in annual operating expenses to run the downtown mission.
Finding the right location and gaining neighborhood acceptance are also hurdles at a new women’s center, Connoy said.
“Even if you move that staff to another location, it still needs to be safely staffed, but you’re also going to incur the added cost of the physical plant and all the costs associated with that,” Connoy said.
“There are barriers that come with that and so the conversation about where to move this program, if we’re going to do it, is a much larger conversation with our community partners,” Connoy said.
The mission will meet with officials from the city and the Ontario Ministry of Health this fall to present the recommendation.
“We are very open to having this conversation with our community partners and this is something we will be doing in the near future. Where is this conversation going, I don’t know, ”Connoy said.