Support services for women in Flamborough will soon be closer to home, with the opening of the new Flamborough Women’s Resource Centre (FWRC) in Waterdown tentatively planned for October 19.
News of the opening means many women with family issues will no longer have to travel to Hamilton or Burlington to access services that they need, as they will be available in their home community. Guests attending an information meeting at Waterdown District High School (WDHS) last Wednesday welcomed the prospect of a community-based facility that will assist women in areas such as accessing government assistance, providing parenting support for teen mothers and offering credit and legal counseling.
Community volunteer Judi Partridge, one of the founding members of the FWRC, presented sobering statistics at last week’s meeting to demonstrate the need for the centre. She noted that about 1,000 seniors live in isolated rural areas of Flamborough, where access to services is virtually non-existent. And, she said, there are more than 2,000 people in Flamborough, including 630 children, living below the poverty line.
Already lacking infrastructure to serve existing needs, Flamborough will be faced with even greater pressures when its current population of 39,000 increases by about 17,000 as projected residential development comes on stream over the next decade or so, Partridge stated.
The new centre is the product of a collaboration between volunteers in the Flamborough community, Drummond House transitional home for women and children and Interval House in Hamilton and its umbrella organization, the Hamilton Women’s Resource Centre. Partridge said the three groups have worked for two years to lay the groundwork for the Flamborough centre.
Debra Tigchelaar, executive director of Drummond House in Flamborough, has seen first-hand the need for the new centre. “We don’t have enough resources in our area to serve women’s needs,” she said, noting that legal aid for women is sorely lacking in Flamborough. The FWRC plans to partner with the Ontario government to ensure that a legal aid centre is included at the Waterdown site.
Clare Freeman, executive director of Interval House, which provides accommodation and services for women who are victims of domestic violence, also supports greater access to women’s services in Flamborough.
Pointing out that suburban and rural women are more at risk of violent crime than their urban counterparts because of their isolation, she also acknowledged that women’s needs go beyond those associated with domestic violence. She encouraged guests to let project workers know what types of services they feel are needed in Flamborough.
One vehicle being used to determine local needs is a survey available electronically to residents in the area. It can be accessed online at http://tr.im/zy8g.
The Waterdown centre will be a satellite location affiliated and supported by Interval House and its Women’s Resource Centre, both of which will provide staff, furniture and a small budget for monthly rent through existing federal government funding directed to Flamborough through the City of Hamilton.
The balance of funding must be raised locally; applications will soon be submitted to the Soroptimists women’s club, United Way and the Trillium Foundation.
Volunteers are needed to help with fundraising, office support and peer support, said Rachael MacLean, who will manage the centre and serve as senior counselor. Volunteers are also needed to serve on an advisory committee.
Partridge said community support has been overwhelming; the Carlisle Optimists offered to donate the proceeds of their spring fundraiser to the centre, and local businesses, such as Weeks Home Hardware and Boston Pizza, also offered to help out. In addition, MP David Sweet, MPP Ted McMeekin and Flamborough councillors Margaret McCarthy and Robert Pasuta boosted the centre with letters of support when an application for government funding was submitted earlier this year.
Stressing the need for community partnerships involving the centre, Partridge suggested Waterdown needs a Food Bank and it would be ideal if a suitable location could be found in town.
The women’s centre will occupy 700 square feet at 17 Main Street South. It will provide outreach, support programs and counseling, as well as connect struggling women, children and families with professional services, legal aid support and local programs.
The centre will be particularly beneficial to women in rural Flamborough, who have limited transportation and lack access to city services.
The Flamborough Women’s Resource Centre will run life skills classes and provide help with job searching as well as access to counseling, children’s services and government programs. It will also be equipped with private rooms for counselors to work with clients.
Reproduced with permission of Flamborough Review