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Coronavirus leads to concerns about domestic abuse

“We are looking at women on an individual basis, to determine the risk they’re in and creating ways to augment the rooms to keep residents apart; also looking at external options.”

To add to the challenges, she says, shelters are short-staffed due to the virus and quarantines, “but we do have an amazing group of women working here, and they’ve just rolled up their sleeves and said ‘we’re in, what do we have to do?’ It’s a reflection of the selflessness of this sector.”

Living in a shelter is stressful in ‘normal’ times; it’s especially so now as women and children are asked not to go to the grocery store and are living communally in a small space while still keeping distance, says Lorris Herenva, executive director of Yellow Brick House.

But there is something you can do to help.

Shelter workers have a limited number of gloves, masks, sanitizers and they are scrambling to get more, says Herenva.

They may be an essential service, but they’re not legislated as one, so workers face greater risk without appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Shelters are also looking for donations — everything from a frozen chicken to gift cards.

HOW TO HELP

Donations of money, disinfecting wipes, laundry soap, toilet paper, gift cards and other essential items are welcome.

Visit sandgate.ca to find the contact information or to find out how you can support the women and children in shelters. Or call Mona at Sandgate 905-251-4126 to arrange donation.

You may also drop off donations for Yellow Brick at 52 West Beaver Creek, Unit 4, 9 a.m. to 4:30 m. Buzz the door — there will be no face to face contact.

If you know of a person who has been or is being abused, it’s important now to reach out to them by phone or social media, or to the local shelter.

SEEK HELP FOR YOURSELF

If you need help yourself, dial 1-800-661-8294 or 911 if you’re in immediate danger.

You can also try sandgate.ca or on Facebook, or Yellow Brick House crisis line is open for texts or phone calls 24-7 at 1-800-263-3247.

To talk with someone immediately about your safety ne and safety planning you can also contact confidential and anonymous provincial crisis lines.   

Assaulted Women’s Helpline 1-866-863-0511

Talk4Healing 1-855-554-HEAL

Fem’aide 1-877-336-2433 (French language assistance)