Small Ideas: $10,000


Thank you potential voters for giving us consideration!

Our proposal is to open a free-use space with a schedule of women-specific programs for all self-identified women 18+ in Kingston, Ontario: The WE (Women Empowered) Hub.

It is based on:
1. Seeking Safety (escaping violence, victim roles, independent living)
2. Managing Powerful Emotions (coping skills, healthy alternatives, processing feelings)
3. Community Kitchen and Garden (food provisions, nutrition, gardening, sharing)
4. Aboriginal Sharing Circle (connection, healing)
5. WE Care, a rotation of (a) life skills, (b) budgeting, (c) knowing your rights, and (d) self-care (including offerings such as haircuts, dental care)
6. Scheduled drop-in, including weekends/evenings (housing applications, advice, rest, food, etc.)

We want women to make this space their own. We welcome all women. All programs are open for enrollment. Women completing programs will mentor others, with volunteerism a priority. Driven by passion, experience and focus, the WE Hub offers programs specifically designed to living an integrated, independent life. It provides a safe and stable space to heal. It offers a community connection and trusted advocate.

Why this program? Well, at-risk, high-needs, vulnerable women in Kingston make up:
- 52% of homeless persons
- 29% of shelter users. Reasons for smaller percentage: staying in temporary, unsafe situations (couch-surfing); safety concerns and re-traumatization from gender-shared services
- 792/1300 justice-based clients with mental illness in 2016/17 (Addictions Mental Health Services)
- 35% of bail supervision caseload (provincial average 15-20%), John Howard Society

What do we know?
- Some similarities with men: unemployment, lower education, addictions, generational poverty
- More commonly victims of: interpersonal violence/abuse; sexual violence (human trafficking, prostitution)
- Experiences of: familial abandonment; trauma-induced mental illness (borderline personality disorder, multiple/concurrent disorders); self-injury; single parents and, commonly, experiencing child-parent separation
- Strong, two-way relationship between homelessness and criminalization – women facing homelessness at increased risk of criminal involvement and those in criminal justice system face increased probability of homelessness upon release
- Re-establishing lives after custody is challenging
- Youth and adult categories for service access vary, leading to challenges: 25+ in homelessness sector; 19+ in correctional sector; 18+ in others
- Long waitlists and mandatory referrals for service
- Police reported sexual assault and domestic violence increasing (2018)

We must be responsive to complexity and women-specific needs. Innovative healing models are comprehensive, open and without time constraints. We will work together to strengthen existing services and tighten delivery gaps.

Our efforts are always toward creating a vibrant, healthy, inclusive community for all members. When we stigmatize and isolate women in need, we further their disadvantage, lengthen recovery pathways, and foster an unhealthy community. Let’s stop cycles of disadvantage TOGETHER and NOW!

Funds will be used toward:
- Reinvigorate space to match healing intentions, including some accessibility costs
- Gardening materials to expand/diversify current space
- Food allowance, recipe book, kitchen/cooking supplies
- Program supplies
- Honorariums for mentors

Elizabeth Fry Kingston:
- Is a non-profit
- Established in 1949
- Started with improving conditions, skill building and release preparations in Prison for Women
- Operates 41 rent-geared-to-income apartments for women and their children, with wrap-around community outreach
- Runs a 12-bed Community Residential Facility for provincial/federal custody releasees
- Has a 24/7 Toll-Free Assistance line; and various other on-site, referral-based pro-social groups and counselling

Broker supported

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Kingston

Location: Kingston