Salvation Army Centres Meet Increase in Demand for Services

by John McAlister
Categories: Feature
Share:

salvationarmy_shelterThe Christmas holidays typically bring a spike in the number of domestic disputes police respond to. There is more alcohol in the home, bills start coming in, there is increased stress and sometimes things turn violent. Most victims of abuse keep their families together during the holidays and leave after. As a result, Salvation Army centres see an increase in demand for services.

The Salvation Army has extensive experience in operating safe houses across Canada. Last year thousands of people were helped in Salvation Army women’s shelters, maternity homes, post psychiatric care centres and day nurseries. Healing begins in these secure environments and practical support offered helps people rebuild their lives.

In 2009 Danielle Turner, a victim of domestic violence, sought shelter for herself and her three children in a Salvation Army safe house. This is her story:

“Early in 2009 I desperately tried to separate from my abusive husband and his family. My family live 3,600 km away and any friends I had were either friends of his or mutual friends that we played sports with. I went back to school in hope of providing a better life for my children on my own, but through control and manipulation, as well as no financial support from my estranged husband, that soon became impossible as well.

“I was alone. I was beginning to lose all the strength and courage that had taken me years to build. I knew staying with him was not only toxic for my self growth, but I was seeing changes in my children that were undeniably caused by our dysfunctional marriage.

“Finally one night I turned to the only ears that I thought would listen and prayed ‘God help me through this.’ I awoke the next morning with only one thought, shelter. I was aware of all the stigmas attached to the name, but every time I said it out loud I was calm and at peace.

“I started phoning around to different shelters, but to my dismay all were full. I had come across The Salvation Army Family Life Resource Centre in Brampton, Ont., on the internet, took one last chance, and gave them a call. They had space for me and my children. I left that same day.

“On arrival I was greeted by a warm and caring counsellor who showed me to my room, which was a clean, one bedroom apartment. She brought me food, bedding and toiletries before sitting down with me and letting me debrief my story. Taking my confidentiality and the fear I had for my estranged husband very seriously I felt safe for the first time in three years.

“In the weeks that I stayed, the shelter offered me help in every aspect. I had access to one-on-one counselling for myself as well as for my children. I met with workers who specialize in Ontario Works, subsidized and priority housing, legal support and even spiritual counselling.
“I attended weekly groups such as abuse, parenting, life skills and self esteem, which are designed for women to recognize the patterns of abuse and help them rebuild their lives. In addition to these groups they offered me, The Salvation Army provided camps and camping trips throughout the summer, crafts and movie nights, and a beautiful park to ensure full stimulation for the children.

“For all those out there living a similar nightmare, please understand you are not alone. There are people who go above and beyond their daily duties for people like you and me.

“This letter is a sincere thank you to all the amazing staff who work at the Family Life Resource Centre. I thank the directors, counsellors, chefs, child-care workers, volunteers, group leaders and the public for their generous donations. Not only did you provide me a place to stay, but you also provided the tools and resources for me to ensure a safe and stable household to raise my three children when I left.”