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Aug 29

FILED IN: Featured Posts

The Changing Face of Nellie’s: More Children and Longer Stays


The 2016-2017 year at Nellie’s has seen as influx of children in the shelter. Almost half of our current residents are children. This change in demographics has impacted Nellie’s in several ways. An increase in children at the shelter has come with its own unique resource challenges as more funds are needed to provide for them. The increase in babies and toddlers means more and more of our already stretched food budget is being redirected to diapers and baby formula.

In addition to the increased costs associated with more children, Nellie’s recognizes that the children who access our services with their mothers are also going through crisis. Abuse, including witnessing abuse, destroys a child’s view of the world as a safe and predictable place. Children suffering from the effects of abuse and trauma might learn that you have to deal with your problems by yourself, adults don’t keep their promises, bad things happen no matter how hard you try to be good, and life is not fair. In contrast, children who grow up with encouragement, fairness, and safety can approach life with enthusiasm and embrace new opportunities. As a result, Nellie’s has created a child care program aimed at creating a space that is responsive to the needs of the children in the house. The program include: developing and enhancing community and connection among children and youth in the house, taking creative methods of storytelling, designing the space they live in, increase quality of care, safety planning and coping strategies.

The housing crisis in Toronto and lack of a current National Housing Strategy has been at the forefront of news lately. Nellie’s continues to provide support to women in shelter and women in the community in securing housing. Housing workers are often finding new and creative ways to work with women to access safe and affordable housing. However, the systemic issues of growing income inequality and lack of adequate and affordable housing often result in women staying longer at the shelter or transferring from shelter to shelter. Shelters meant for emergency housing are more and more becoming long-term housing for woman.

During women’s stay at Nellie’s, they will be connected with a housing worker to provide support in finding and maintaining housing. They will also work with front-line counsellors to create safety plans, receive supportive counselling and get one-on-one support to navigate different systems, including income supports, legal systems (family, criminal, immigration) and accessing other programs and services offered.

Nellie’s continues to offer programming aimed at enhancing women’s experience living in the house. One example of a popular program is ‘Nurturing Ourselves.’  Nurturing Ourselves runs once a month and was created to give women time to develop boundaries and create space just for themselves, allowing opportunities for healing, self-care and coping strategies. Some of the activities include: yoga, journaling and poetry.

Over the coming year Nellie’s will continue to find new and creative ways to work with women, especially around  the intersecting issues of trauma, harm reduction and mental health (an area Nellie’s has deemed a priority and which we have specific expertise). Nellie’s will continue to advocate for change and work to address systemic issues that affect all women

Thank you all for keeping up the amazing response to our request for diapers size 5 & 6! We have enough for the next 2 months but would like to ask for formula to keep the little tummies full. We need the following for our toddlers & babies:
• Similac Go & Grow Non-GMO Step 2 (6-24 months) Omega-3 and Omega-6 Milk-Based Infant Formula Powder
• Similac Advance with Omega-3 & Omega-6, Ready to Feed (0-6 months)
• Enfamil A+ 2 Iron Fortified Formula for Infant (0-6 months) & (6-24 months)
• Baby cereal all kinds (rice, barley and oatmeal etc.).
• Parents’ choice baby juice all kinds
• Baby snacks