Last week, United Way East Ontario’s Women United rallied together to stand up and support women and their families who are struggling, as our community grapples with COVID-19.
Together, the growing group of women have pledged to help women facing violence, and families facing food insecurity—issues that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $30,000 investment will help about 250 women and their children living in shelters for women fleeing violence in Ottawa, Prescott-Russell, Lanark County and Renfrew County. The funds will ensure women have access to technology and information, counselling, personal protective equipment, food and basic needs, and other wrap-around resources to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.
This marks the first time members have made a common investment across all four regional areas of United Way East Ontario—embodying the true power of Women United.
To make an even greater impact on the lives of vulnerable women, Women United’s Chair, Joan Highet, issued a challenge to members to dig a little deeper, to ensure no one is left behind during COVID-19.
Additional donations from Women United members will put $100 grocery gift cards in the hands of women in at-risk neighbourhoods, who are facing food insecurity as a result of COVID-19.
Behind every woman are the women who have her back
Members of Women United leverage their time, talents and funds to empower women in the community and to ensure vulnerable women and their families have equal opportunities for a successful life.
Typically, Women United members pool their resources and invest in several Community Action Grants—grants that aim to reduce social isolation, increase community cohesion and safety and empower women to be changemakers in their neighbourhoods.
When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in early March, it quickly became clear that community needs were rapidly shifting. In a nearly unanimous vote, Women United members agreed to allocate this year’s Community Action Grant funds to support women across East Ontario who are experiencing violence and enduring heightened struggles as a result of COVID-19.
Home is not a safe place for everyone
For some women and children, COVID-19 has meant that there is no respite from the threat of abuse, and fewer opportunities to connect with friends, family, or services that can provide the help they need. Agency partners have seen an increase in domestic violence during COVID-19 as many people’s mental health declines, and families are living in close quarters without breaks from each other.
Because of physical distancing requirements, women who need help are finding it difficult to reach out, to leave those unsafe homes, and to find a sense of security for their families.
For women and children already living in the shelter system after fleeing violence, the nature of these facilities makes it difficult to self-isolate. Tight quarters, and common kitchen and social areas have required shelters to implement scheduling in shared spaces and find ways of offering remote access to counselling and kids’ education.
For many weeks now, United Way East Ontario has been bringing together a table of public health authorities, municipalities, frontline social service agencies, corporate partners, and many others. Participants at the table had identified a particular need to support women experiencing violence, which helped members of Women United clearly identify the best avenue for their investments in order to support vulnerable women.
Thanks to the generosity of Women United members, other women who are struggling are not left behind through the difficulties of COVID-19.
Women supporting women
Women United is for women who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of issues facing our community and want to see the direct impact of their donation.
Members are connected to a network of like-minded women who rally their support, expertise and resources to lift up vulnerable women in our community.
By joining our local chapter, you can be part of an initiative that connects to a national and international movement. Globally, Women United includes more than 75,000 women across six countries and 165 communities.