London women’s shelter Anova is blaming a lack of funding for the elimination of a position that supports clients who walk in off the street seeking support due to gender-based violence.
Officials confirmed this week that the contract for the full-time position at Anova’s Counselling and Support Centre (CSC) at the Wellington Road shelter will end on Friday, Dec. 21 and will not be renewed.
Executive director Jessie Rodger said the position was created four years ago, but unfortunately, funding from the province has not kept pace with increasing demand for service.
“Funding is not being taken away, it’s that we need more support and more funding, and we’re having to look at how we’re using the resources that we’re getting from our funders,” she said.
The money being spent on that position will be redirected to address the complex needs of the shelter.
“What we’re actually seeing is that shelter stays are getting longer and longer,” Rodger said. “We’re seeing shelter stays and folks who are in shelter having more complex requirements and complex needs so where once we were able to manage and support with the amount of staff that we have, we can no longer do that.”
Anova receives funding from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of the Attorney General, the United Way and public donations.
Rodger said women who ring the doorbell at their shelters will still be met by dedicated shelter staff, who will do their best to support, but the immediacy of the help will change for those not requiring immediate safety.
“Sometimes, it will be having to divert them to other supports and services when we can, so sending them to places like My Sisters Place, London Abused Women’s Centre, CMHA to get support from their programs and services,” she said. “The community will feel it in that way, in that our community partners are going to see more people coming to their doors because the numbers at Anova continue to grow.”
The agency hopes to call on residents and their community partners to advocate for system-wide changes to support survivors of violence. Aside from donating to Anova directly, Rodger is encouraging residents to write to their MPP and advocate for the agency.
“In 2017, we had 800 people walk into our doors asking for help,” Rodger said. “At the end of September, we were up to 600. We were also getting up to 1,000 calls a month on our crisis and support line, which is an incredible increase over the past year and a half.”
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