The original intent was for Bethesda House to support victims of domestic violence however over the years, we have grown into an agency providing a wide range of services and supports to women, youth and children who are dealing with all types of gender-based violence including but not limited to:
We provide these services to
- Women, youth and children who ask for safe refuge in our secure shelter
- As well as to women, youth and children who choose to not come into the shelter but instead receive support through our Community Outreach program
Both types of clients have access to the same types of services, including but not limited to…
- Individual and group counselling
- Safety planning for themselves and their children
- Child & Youth Worker support helping moms parent children who have experienced abuse, and counselling and other supports for those youth and children
- Help from a Transition & Housing Worker with all the things that need to be dealt with in order to move on, such as finances, finding a place to live, attending court, etc.
(All women who leave the shelter are connected with the Bethesda House Community Counselor for follow up support and counselling for as long as needed.)
THE OBJECTIVE OF THE SHELTER PROGRAM
To provide shelter, support and advocacy to abused women, with and without children, by offering temporary, secure accommodation and woman-based counselling empowering them to make their own choices and exercise their right to live free from fear and violence.
DESCRIPTION OF THE SHELTER PROGRAM
The Bethesda House shelter is a safe and secure residence where women, with and without children, can come to stay when leaving behind abusive relationships. The shelter is funded for 18 beds, although it has the capacity to offer up to 20 beds in emergencies. It is an old (almost) century home with a large addition on the back. It has a warm common living, dining and kitchen area on the main floor as well as a child-friendly playroom. Large bedrooms are on the upper floor, and the Bethesda House administrative offices are in the basement. The property includes a small outdoor play area for the children and a smoking area for the women.
Women can refer themselves to the Bethesda House shelter. They, their children, and their pets (whenever possible) are welcome to stay at the shelter while they gather their strength and make plans to move on to a violence free living situation. The length of stay is flexible, varying to meet the needs of each individual woman.
While in the shelter, counselors help the women develop action plans identifying goals and the steps needed to be taken to achieve those goals. The women, shelter counselors and the shelter Transitional Support Worker coordinate service to ensure that the women’s needs are met in the shelter and her transition back to the community is as smooth and safe as possible.
While in shelter the women are provided;
- a safe & protected environment in which to recuperate and rejuvenate
- a clean & sanitary environment
- one-to-one counselling and support groups focusing on each woman’s strengths using a brief, solution-focused counselling modality
- emotional support & education regarding issues of abuse
- in coordination with the Transitional Support Worker, emotional support & education regarding legal, housing, CAS, medical etc. options, and accompaniment to appointments when necessary
- assistance to emotionally prepare for appointments & meetings
- support dealing with day-to-day issues as they arise
- ongoing workshops & groups in the shelter on topics of interest to the women (ie re nutrition, relaxation, being safe, relationships, self-esteem, etc.)
When a child(ren) accompany a mother into the shelter, the Bethesda House Child & Youth Worker (CYW) completes an independent intake with the children. The mandate of the CYW is to ensure that no children in Bethesda House fall through the cracks in service while their mothers are working on their own abuse issues and plans. The CYW ensures that children and youth in the shelter are able to feel and act like children/youth, having fun in addition to dealing with their issues. The CYW provides support to meet the individual needs of each child/youth, in co-ordination with the mother and other shelter staff.
The mother/children are provided;
- support & assistance with parenting issues and issues related to abuse and the children
- one-to-one counseling support to the children
- group activities for the children in the shelter (movie nights, craft activities, games, music nights, etc.)
- referrals for the children to external resources as appropriate
- back-up child care support in the shelter for mothers who have appointments and there are no reasonable alternatives
Women in the shelter share in housekeeping responsibilities. They have access to food to cook for themselves and their families or can join with other residents to make a meal for everyone. Residents look after their own laundry.
Families are kept together in one bedroom. Women without children may be required to room with another resident.
Living in a communal setting like the shelter (shared common areas including the kitchen, dining room, living room, etc.) can be stressful and very different than living in one’s own home. However all residents are expected to comply with a set of communal guidelines that are in place to make living together as positive as possible for everyone involved. The violation of the communal living guidelines can result in the resident being asked to leave. The safety and well-being of the residents and staff is of utmost importance and is taken very seriously.