Guarantee Shelters to Victims of Domestic Violence

by Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc
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Guarantee Shelters to Victims of Domestic Violence
Guarantee Shelters to Victims of Domestic Violence
Guarantee Shelters to Victims of Domestic Violence

Over the past ten (10) years and months, we have taken swift and decisive action to mobilize what has been an unprecedented response to protect our most vulnerable clients. We have tried to stay one step ahead of the rise in Domestic Violence Incidents and the need for safe shelter for victims and their children during the pandemic and continue to adapt and evolve our response as the situation has continued to change rapidly. This tremendous accomplishment would not have been possible without the tireless commitment, partnership and strong communication across from our donors and volunteers. This has been no small task, however we continue to push forward, relentlessly, because we understand and recognize that the people we are committed to supporting depend on the services we provide. Reflecting on this experience, it is clear that we cannot go back to the way things used to be once this pandemic is over. We have an opportunity to do things differently and we need to take action collectively (CSO’s, NGO’s and State) and mobilize towards a shared goal. We can have a significant impact on the lives of people experiencing domestic violence and need safe shelter. Looking ahead, we will continue working collaboratively with like minded partners to ensure we are prepared for a potential second wave of COVID-19 or other such event which creates widespread displacements for victims and survivors. We will also leverage opportunities presented by the pandemic to shift the system towards prevention and minimization by exploring opportunities to provide permanent housing solutions that protect the health and well-being of people experiencing gender based violence. While COVID-19 has magnified the issue of domestic violence, as we shift toward recovery efforts, building on this foundation provides an opportunity to rebuild a better future for all. I want to extend my sincere gratitude for your ongoing partnership and commitment to providing services to the most vulnerable members of our community.

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Safety Planning
Safety Planning

Domestic violence is one of the primary causes of homelessness for women and their children in the Saint Lucia our data reflects. According to the data collected from clients, between 22 and 57 percent of women and children are homeless due to domestic violence, with 38 percent of all victims experiencing homeless at some point in their lives due to domestic violence.  Victims who leave their abusive partner multiple times due to domestic violence often experience multiple events of homelessness.

When a victim of domestic violence chooses to leave their abusive partner, safe and affordable housing is one of the primary barriers they will face for themselves and their children.  In a short survey conducted in 2021, more than 1,000 adults and children fleeing domestic violence found only temporary refuge in the state emergency shelter, at friends, family, etc.  For every five cases which we process four requests housing and shelter. Due to space constraints at least two out of every four victims who identified a need for housing services did not receive housing due to both space and resource constraints.

Though emergency shelters can be a source of immediate short-term safety, we would like to provide transitional housing victims a housing option and supportive services—including counseling, childcare, transportation, life skills, education and/or job training—for up to 24 months.  It is a safe, affordable option that empowers survivors to begin rebuilding their lives after fleeing abuse.  Transitional housing programs give survivors the time and services they need to achieve goals for long-term safety and stability.  Without these programs, survivors may have no other option than to return to their abuser’s home or face homelessness.

We have recently received a lease at minimal rate for a plot of land that can be used to build a transitional housing our challenge now is to source funding for the construction, equipping and furnishing. Transitional Housing supports economic empowerment and survivor autonomy while using a voluntary services model.  While the solutions to addressing domestic violence and its related consequences must encompass a broad range of interventions and options for domestic violence survivors, strategies must be trauma-informed and survivor-centered.  If our goal is to truly empower survivors of domestic violence, they must be provided with the tools to establish economic self-sufficiency, short-term goal-setting, and long-term planning for their futures. Your help is important to us. 

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Shelter space for domestic violence victims is limited and shrinking

Domestic Violence shelter space for domestic violence victims is limited and shrinking as abuse cases continue to rise during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

When we look at the number of domestic violence calls made to our organization, and how many people used our services at our own safe between May 2020 to October 2021 there is a crisis within a crisis in Saint Lucia.

But it is important to keep tracking the numbers to more accurately analyze the trends.

While we did not record any domestic homicides in that period, lack of shelter space for abused victims remains a serious issue and hundreds of people couldn't get immediate shelter or find a place to stay when they sought help. This was due to limited shelter space by both state and NGO’s but also because people were not allowing anyone in their private homes for fear of being infected and then infecting them and their families with COVID.

Despite the frustration at turning people away, the upside is that we have realized there is a serious need and we are working to increase shelter space in the next year, while encouraging the Gov’t to work towards increasing state shelter spaces in their own shelters.

We are working to ensure we don't lose any ground that we've made regarding domestic violence, how victims are treated and how service providers react

Presently we are working on a project to create inter agency collaboration and communication and to synchronize processes and procedures used for the provision of domestic violence support services at both state and NGO levels.

Between January to October, 2021, we provided shelter for approximately 107 persons in our safe spaces, 28 at private off-site spaces and 11 at varying locations. It cost us a total of US$300 per day per client to provide a comprehensive set of support services, we can only continue this work with your help.

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Covid-19 has had an immeasurable impact on women in Saint Lucia, both socially and economically. Indeed, a significant percentage of Saint Lucian women work in the informal sector, according to our observations and anecdotal reports the lockdown measures have led to a partial and sometimes total drop in their income, and they do not benefit from any social security insurance.

As a result of the lockdown, curfews, state of emergency many women have been deprived of income: waitresses, restaurateurs, hairdressers, make-up artists. Domestic workers have lost their jobs, such as Kathy, who with two small children to cater for is compelled to return regularly home to her family, while no boss wants to take such risk with her. As for Allisa, who was responsible for cleaning for a Business Person for a sum of $440 USD per month, she lost a source of income that allowed her to buy products to sell at the market, after her service hours. She is forced to solicit others to provide one meal per day for her children. In rural areas, the situation is no better.

The majority of women are engaged in the informal sector; however, the money raised by Government to assist with COVID-19 relief has largely been used to build roads and other infrastructural project which does not benefit women and children. The food distribution program was a onetime affair and many households have received nothing.

Overall, few women in the informal sector have been able to adapt to the new situation. Designers have started to make masks, female traders have switched to digital technology to sell their goods including home deliveries, but this is not within the reach of the majority of illiterate women.

The women's workloads are increasing, with the closure of schools, as the lockdown had not broken the traditional pattern of male and female roles within the household, while social distancing, the watchword which has disrupted the logic of social solidarity, deprives them of support from the other family members. Those who have lost their husbands are left alone in their bereavement without any assistance from the family. The level of poverty has worsened among women, whose spouses are affected and can no longer contribute to household expenses and responsibilities.

In the long term, the society will be devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Should women continue to be ignored economically and socially, there will be increased family instability. The most venerable women will find it difficult to get back on their feet. They will practically have to start all over again. Their recent vulnerabilities expose them to risks that can lead to more violence, prostitution and other forms of deviance. This was an opportunity for strategic planning by the state to address major problems facing poor women.

Access to food is the primary issue facing women, ability to pay rent for safe shelter, utilities and education expenses. Food security is the key to independence and a life free from domestic violence. Financial autonomy is a major problem of poor and vulnerable women and the establishment of micro loans so women can start over after the devastating effects of COVID-19 is extremely urgent.

Over the last 3 months a total of 31 women have received safe shelter which was paid in part by funds raised on GlobalGiving. 

Shelter space is in demand daily, however our capacity to provide additional shelter is restricted by limited funding. 

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COVID-19 has exposed how widespread gender based violence most specifically domestic violence and child sexual abuse, also the lack of resources such as shelters, support services and social safety nets for victims of violence. 

Systemic failures with respect to where does a women who has lost her livilihood, is a victim of violence go for shelter or support.

The agencies dedicated to providing such services lacks capacity i.e both human and material resources to tackle this shadow pandemic called gender based violence and coupled with lost of the ability to pay rent, utilities, internet connection for e-learning, etc is nothing short of a double blow to women and children. 

Based on available inhouse resources we provide shelter to a limited number of clients for prolong periods as covid-19 has also limited our ability to find employment for clients so they can be reintegrated. 

We continue to advocate for both improved support services and material support to victims of gender based violence and hope that the pandemic would have forced a change in the service delivery mechanism within the public services agencies, this has not been forthcoming. 

To date from January 2021 we have provided shelter support to twenty six individuals, we ask for your donation to continue the work we have started. 

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Organization Information

Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc

Location: GROS ISLET - Saint Lucia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ourvoiceslu
Project Leader:
Catherine Sealys
President
GROS ISLET, Saint Lucia
$5,163 raised of $15,720 goal
 
116 donations
$10,557 to go
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