For many families, the stress level is through the roof. Worries about COVID-19. Information overload. Job uncertainty. Financial insecurity. Schools closed. Routines turned upside down.
On the positive, there has been much time for togetherness. While many family moments are probably being created, that isn’t the case for women and children living in an abusive relationship.
Teresa MacLennan, executive director of the Women and Children’s Shelter of Barrie, said since the pandemic and the push for people to stay at home the nature of the calls to their crisis line have intensified.
Last week, Barrie Police spokesman Peter Leon said the department had seen an increase in calls for disputes and violence as more families stay together longer in the house.
To manage physical distancing, MacLennan said they continue to shelter women and their children in Barrie and are now supporting women and their children in locations outside of the shelter.
“This has proven to be very costly to run two shelters without any additional funding at this point. We are hopeful that money that has been promised will start to flow as quickly as possible. We can’t close our doors and the requests for emergency service continue to come in.”
The nature of calls to the shelter’s crisis line have intensified and MacLennan said they are hearing from women who are desperate to leave their homes.
“For most people, home is a safe and secure place. For women experiencing violence, being isolated at home can be the worst thing to happen to them,” said MacLennan. “They can’t escape and the violence is greatly intensified. We are asking any woman who is needing support and experiencing violence to call our crisis line at 705-728-2544. We are still taking all calls and will work with you to provide support and safety.”
While MacLennan waits to hear about government dollars, fundraising projects in the community are on hold. The Women and Children’s Shelter needs to fundraise $350,000 a year just to keep the lights on and the doors open, and that’s a minimum. The shelter is partially funded for 27 beds.
“We understand in this difficult times that financial hardship is felt by many in our community. After everyone takes care of themselves and their families we continue to ask the community to think of us and help us if they can. Financial donations are needed at this crucial time as we continue to offer all our services with no fundraising events to help sustain us.”
Links to make a financial donation can be found at www.barrieshelter.com