Toronto’s Violence Against Women’s Shelters Launch #stillhereTO—an Outreach Campaign.
This campaign will include the distribution of posters and postcards across the city, especially in priority neighbourhoods, a social media campaign, as well as targeted education to essential service providers working with isolated women. The campaign will be multilingual and include materials in French, Spanish, Tagalog and Punjabi. This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada through an Emergency Community Support Fund grant through United Way of Greater Toronto.
Not everyone is safe at home and with the stay-at-home orders, women who live in violent homes are further isolated from the community and resources that keep them safer.  There has been growing concern about violence against women during the pandemic, with preliminary data showing that incidences have risen nationwide by 20–30%. 
A recent Women’s Shelters Canada report states that 59% of shelters saw a decrease in crisis calls when businesses, schools and public spaces closed. When restrictions eased and more places opened, crisis calls increased—with 52% of shelters reporting that women had experienced somewhat more or much more severe violence.  In Toronto alone, the Assaulted Women’s Helpline receives an average of 4,000 calls per month, but counsellors picked up more than 55,000 calls between March and September 2020, with a peak of approximately 8,000 calls in June. 
The increased isolation due to stay-at-home orders and many community places being closed, makes it harder to reach out to those that are experiencing violence at home. This has become increasingly difficult due to rumors that shelters and other services that support those experiencing violence and abuse are closed.
VAWN, through the #stillhereTO campaign wants people to know: that shelters and other support services for survivors of violence are not closed. We are open. We are still here. And we are a safe place for women to turn to.
VAWN is a coordinating network composed of Executive Directors and Managers of the 14 MCCSS funded Violence Against Women shelters from across Toronto. VAWN formed in 2000 and since then it has been committed to working towards systemic change to end violence against women. Throughout its history, VAWN has worked with many partners and embarked on a number of initiatives to realize its objectives.
For more information visit www.stillhereTO.com.
Judit Alcalde, VAWN Coordinator
647- 896-8012 firstname.lastname@example.org