We are elated to share the final grant recipient from the first round of the Emergency Community Support Fund, Atira Women’s Resource Society. With a $62,000.00 grant, we have helped support Atira’s Surrey Women’s Outreach Van project which, like their other services, is delivered through five key principles: inclusive feminism, women-centred, harm reduction, innovation and trauma-informed practice. This Outreach Van has continued operation throughout COVID-19 between the hours of 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. to connect with women who are homeless or at risk in the community, by providing them with snacks, harm reduction supplies, housing outreach, referrals and much more.
Atira Women’s Resource Society offers safe and supportive housing while delivering education and advocacy that supports women and children affected by violence. As Atira aims to end all forms of gendered violence, the Society operates nine housing programs for women and children in White Rock and Surrey alongside one in Burnaby, one in Richmond and eighteen in Vancouver. Atira also provides support programs for women and children who have witnessed and/or experienced violence and/or abuse, a legal advocacy and outreach program for women who are First Nations, Metis and or Inuit, support for high risk pregnant and early parenting women and outreach to women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Overall, their housing includes three first-stage transition houses, three second-stage transition house programs, one short-term transitional house program at a shelter, three emergency shelters, eight long-term housing programs, a short-term housing program for young women, an intergeneration housing program, an end-of-life program for women in the Downtown Eastside and shelter for women who are pregnant and early parenting. These housing programs, alongside their Outreach Van, help to build relationships with women to support them to ultimately get housed.
Janice Abbott, the Chief Executive Officer of Atira Women’s Resource Society, explained that with this project, “one of the primary objectives of the Outreach Van during the COVID-19 pandemic has been to connect women with information to not only help prevent the spread of the virus but also to maintain their own health and wellbeing, ensuring they have access to health care, are able to self isolate as needed with groceries, cleaning supplies, masks and other personal protective equipment.” They have streamlined their programs and services, implemented handwashing systems, brought in compostable washrooms, created temporary transition houses and have not closed any programs due to COVID-19!
The grant is made possible through the Government of Canada's new $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund, which saw over $900,000 allocated to SurreyCares.
Christine Buttkus, Executive Director of SurreyCares, applauded Atira for how they have “adapted and maintained their workflow as safely and efficiently as possible throughout COVID-19.” She added that “as Atira has ramped up their work, it is of utmost importance that our community supports their services financially and that we continue to support vulnerable women during this unprecedented time.”
Atira Women’s Resource Society is not restricting visits or services so women can continue to reach out! We urge you to help spread awareness; their call-in line is accommodating of all circumstances and can be reached at (604) 800-8881. If you or a woman you know needs groceries delivered, someone to talk to or other support, their expansive services are available even throughout COVID-19.
Atira is also collecting small gifts such as gift cards, pyjamas, robes/slippers and toys to provide women and children as the holiday season approaches. Find more information about how to tangibly support Atira’s initiatives and the vulnerable women they support at https://atira.bc.ca/.