Demand for crisis accommodation for homeless women is high. More than one in two women across Australia who seek a bed in a crisis shelter are turned away every night, mostly due to a lack of space.
Women’s Community Shelters (WCS) fills the gap where existing services cannot meet demand. It works with communities to establish short-term emergency accommodation shelters that enable homeless women to rebuild their self-esteem and achieve control and fulfilment in their lives.
The strength of Women’s Community Shelters’ model is its replicability and sustainability. The model, often referred to as a social franchise, leverages the goodwill of local community and business groups and helps them set up and maintain community-operated crisis accommodation shelters across Sydney. Once the shelters are established, Women’s Community Shelters provides ongoing referral, counselling support for the women and children in the shelters.
The PAYCE Foundation began its partnership with Women’s Community Shelters in 2016 with a commitment of $90,000 over three years to assist the start-up phase of The Sanctuary, a crisis accommodation shelter for women fleeing domestic violence in the Hills district.
The partnership has since evolved to further address the needs of women escaping domestic violence.
PAYCE donated the use of two houses for a period of 2 years to the new Parramatta Women’s Shelter, one of Women’s Community Shelter’s latest addition to their growing network of shelters. The PAYCE staff has also participated in a working bee to help upgrade the properties and gardens before the Shelter’s official opening.
In addition, through a collaborative approach, Women’s Community Shelters and the PAYCE Foundation identified opportunities for property developers to contribute to transitional housing stock. The innovative project, Pathways Home, leverages housing stock that has been acquired for future development or that may be temporarily underutilised and puts it to good use as longer term accommodation post crisis.
As part of the Pathways Home project, PAYCE has donated the use of five properties, providing thousands of additional bed nights to house women and children escaping domestic violence and trying to rebuild their lives post trauma. Our support for the Pathways Home model has also included a $90,000 donation in FY20 and $45,000 in FY21 to support its expansion and uptake by other property developers and owners.
Participation in training and paid work opportunities is a critical pathways to re-establishing one’s life after trauma. For this reason, in FY20, we have extended our support to Women’s Community Shelters by providing a $20,000 fund to cover childcare expenses for women with children, therefore providing them with an opportunity to participate in the Kick Start training and employment program. 2 women have already participated in the program with a third starting in July 2020.