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Birchway Niagara: Urgent call for support in the fight against abuse

Shelter expansion operations rely on community support

In the heart of Niagara, Birchway Niagara serves as a beacon of hope and refuge, offering compassionate, confidential support and safe shelter for survivors of abuse.

The call for support has never been more pressing. While Birchway Niagara increased its shelter capacity from 30 to 40 shelter beds in 2022, these ten new spaces do not receive government funding, meaning Birchway Niagara relies solely on community support to operate these additional spaces. Shockingly, during the last fiscal year, 278 women were turned away due to funding constraints, underscoring the gravity of the situation. In the 12 months leading to November 25, 2023, Ontario witnessed the loss of 62 women and girls to gender-based violence, emphasizing the immediate threat faced by many in our communities.

Every donation is a lifeline, supporting survivors and working towards a future free from violence.

Birchway Niagara is more than just a shelter; it is a support network that aims to empower survivors. In addition to the 40-bed shelter in Niagara Falls, Birchway operates satellite offices in Welland, Port Colborne, and Fort Erie. The comprehensive services include 24-hour support, counselling, emotional support, safety planning, transitional and housing support, family court support and legal advocacy, public education, prevention programs, and referrals to specialized services in the community.

Support from the community can make a difference in the lives of survivors.

Financial gifts provide women and their children the resources necessary to rebuild their lives. Members of our community can become monthly donors to make a consistent, ongoing impact. They can also host a community fundraiser or create an online fundraising page to mark a special occasion. Individuals can also include Birchway Niagara in their estate planning or volunteer their time.

The community can also participate in or sponsor Birchway Niagara events, like "Brunch, Bid & Bowl" on March 9 or the Birchway Book Riot in June.

Formerly known as Women's Place, Birchway Niagara changed its name on March 4, 2023. Their new name and updated mission reflect a broader perspective that acknowledges abuse as a societal issue affecting everyone. While the emergency shelter continues to serve women and their children, Birchway Niagara's expanded mission encompasses all members of the community impacted by family and intimate partner violence.

“Communities across Ontario and Canada are experiencing a crisis of gender-based violence”, explains Birchway Niagara’s executive director, Jennifer Gauthier.

“A reality that was acknowledged recently by the Niagara Region when they declared intimate partner violence an epidemic. Domestic violence services like ours struggle to keep up with the need. Every donation ensures that critical services are available every hour of the day to those who need it most.” she added.

Birchway Niagara urges the community to unite in the face of this urgent need for support. Together, this community can provide safety, empower survivors, and work towards breaking the cycle of abuse.

Visit Birchway Niagara's website for more information on how you can be an ally against abuse.