Local agencies are calling a new report on the service gaps for women fleeing abuse a wake-up call.
It was a multi-year, multi-tier project by the Woman Abuse Working Group and the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton.
Together they set out to understand the assets, the services available to women experiencing abuse, be it physical, emotional or psychological.
After developing a comprehensive map of helplines, transitional support workers and emergency shelters among other services, it was time to push forward to understand the gaps.
Three focus groups and a number of surveys completed by agencies helped augment a report comprised of 19 recommendations.
Natasha Dobler with Interval House Hamilton says what became extremely apparent to her was the need for coordination.
“If you look at all of the services that a woman may come into contact with, think about all the times she has to say her story.”
“How many times does she have to say she is a victim of sexual assault, physical assault, emotional, financial, think about all the times she has to say that, to ever single service.”
Dobler says that is why a recommendation to develop a system navigator for women whose needs may be complex has been put forward.
Adding that there is also a push for a “no wrong door” approach in the community.
“So no matter what service she enters or what doors she comes through, that she is going to be connected to that system of support” explains Dobler.
Other recommendations put a focus on increasing accessibility for marginalized groups which means more staff with French and languages other than English as well as flexible hours that include more evenings and weekends.
Dobler says the report validates what front line workers see on a daily basis and the need for “creative solutions.”