Muskoka Women's Shelters and Advocacy
Muskoka Interval House
P.O. Box 748
Bracebridge, ON P1L 1T9
Local Phone: 705-645-4461
Toll Free: 1-800-461-1740
12-56 Kinton Ave.
Huntsville, ON P1H 1M3
Local Phone: 705-789-8488
Toll Free: 1-866-789-8488
HERE'S HOW STAFF AT EITHER FACILITY CAN HELP
- Emergency accommodation from abusive situations for women and their children
- Confidential, non-judgemental crisis counselling in person or by phone
- Safety planning and emergency transportation
- Support, advocacy and referrals to other agencies
- Women's and children's group programs
- Public education on issues of woman abuse
- Applications for Chrysalis transitional housing units
The Muskoka Women’s Advocacy Group (MWAG) provides a variety of support services for women and their children, along with other community education and outreach endeavors. Some of the programs are based at the shelters, Muskoka Interval House (MIH) and Chrysalis, and are intended primarily for residents and ex-residents; other activities are hosted elsewhere and are open to women and children who are not clients.
All services offered through any of MWAG’s ongoing programs are completely confidential and free of charge. Whenever possible, childcare and/or transportation assistance is made available for participants.
Volunteers are very important in the operation of these programs, particularly regarding transportation for clients and childcare during group activities. Any volunteers working directly with clients are required to successfully complete a six-session training course, undergo a police check and maintain client confidentiality.
CHILD AND YOUTH
The Child and Youth Program (CYP) at Muskoka Interval House (MIH) and Chrysalis offers some activities just for children and others that include their mothers. CYP staff provide: education on the effects of woman abuse on children; emotional support for children staying at the shelter; help to learn effective, non-violent problem-solving skills; positive parenting techniques; and support groups for children who have been exposed to violence and abuse at home.
One important support group is called "Children’s Voices." Conducted in a safe, private setting, this 10-session interactive series is intended for mothers and children who have left abusive homes. It is designed to help children identify and express emotions related to the violence and abuse they have experienced, as well as to teach moms how to support and encourage them during this process. Participating children are given the opportunity to learn about abuse and related topics, such as safety planning and healthy problem solving, without violence.
Children’s group programming also takes place at both Chrysalis and MIH, while their mothers are taking part in other activities offered through the shelter’s Outreach Program.
Outreach Program services are available to women who want further support after being shelter residents, as well as those who seek support but have not stayed at MIH or Chrysalis. The role of Outreach staff is to support women who have experienced abuse by empowering them to make positive choices and changes in their lives. This is done on a one-to-one basis as well as through group facilitation.
Weekly support and education groups are offered at both shelters. These groups provide opportunities for socializing in safe, supportive environments, and women are encouraged to make connections, forge new friendships and support one another. Designed to build women’s knowledge and strengths through education, topics can include life skills, budgeting, "green" living and healthy lifestyle choices, as well as self-esteem, grief and loss, coping strategies, setting boundaries and goals, or other subjects that are particularly relevant for women emerging from abusive relationships.
Outreach and CYP program staff work jointly to facilitate the "Children’s Voices" group, offered for women and their children, after they have left abusive homes.
TRANSITION / COURT SUPPORT
The Transition/Court Support Program provides support to women who are involved in the legal system, primarily for family court issues. This is done by accompanying them to legal appointments and providing information or explanations regarding the legal process. It also includes assisting with the creation of a strategy that recognizes a woman’s rights and ensures her safety, as well as the safety and best interests of her child or children, if applicable.
Support can range from advocacy on the woman’s behalf to referrals to other appropriate agencies or community organizations. Women’s requests for support have included accompanying them to small claims court, provincial offenses court and landlord/tenant tribunals, as well as family and criminal court in Muskoka and elsewhere – requests are as unique as each woman is!
TRANSITIONAL HOUSING SUPPORT
The primary focus of the Transitional Housing Support Program is assisting and empowering women who are residents of the Chrysalis Supportive Housing units. This begins by interviewing applicants for these 10 apartments, whether they are shelter clients or women referred directly from the community, and includes working with the volunteer committee that oversees this facility and staff in the adjoining crisis shelter.
The Transitional Housing Support worker’s role is to assist residents in achieving goals they have set for themselves, as well as attending court/legal appointments with them and advocating for them with other community organizations or agencies, as needed. Women can reside in these geared-to-income apartments for a maximum of one year, with or without children.
For further information, please visit www.mwag.ca.