Funding supports vulnerable women in Downtown Eastside

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Vulnerable women living on the street in the Downtown Eastside will continue to receive year-round support from the WISH Drop-In Centre Society thanks to an increase in operating funding from the B.C. government.

This boost in operating funding will allow the organization to continue to offer services that include health, educational, employment and harm reduction support services, seven nights a week, to women involved in Vancouver’s street-based sex trade.

“I applaud the important work that WISH Drop-In Centre Society does for some of the most marginalized women in the Downtown Eastside,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“Our government is proud to be a partner in creating a safe and inclusive environment that gives vulnerable women in Vancouver the support they need.”

The centre serves an average of 275-300 women each day and night. Due to a steady increase in the number of women accessing the WISH Drop-In Centre, and without the support of additional operating funds, the society was forced to consider reducing operating hours.

“While in the midst of a devastating opioid crisis, and while experiencing some of the worst homelessness we’ve seen in recent years, we are relieved to receive this additional funding,” said Mebrat Beyene, executive director, WISH Drop-In Centre Society.

“It has allowed us to keep the Drop-In Centre open seven nights a week, 18 hours a day, in order to continue to provide a safe haven for some of the most targeted and vulnerable women in the region. We are incredibly grateful to the Province. Their support and recognition of the particularly dire needs of women engaged in Vancouver’s street-based sex trade is important and meaningful. We are saving lives together, with respect and dignity.”

The Province is providing WISH with approximately $153,000 in additional operating funds for 2017-18, and another $224,000 for 2018-19.

Located on Alexander Street in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, WISH provides services including:

  • Drop-In Centre – open from 6 p.m. overnight to 12 p.m. the next day, 365 nights per year, offering a safe place for women to rest, shower, eat, and access a wide variety of programs;
  • Learning Centre – operated out of the Drop-In Centre and delivered in partnership with Capilano University;
  • Clinic – operated out of the Drop-In Centre and delivered in partnership with B.C. Women’s Hospital and Health Centre and REACH Community Health Centre;
  • Aboriginal Health and Safety Program – enabling women to reclaim their culture, learn new skills and connect with one another;
  • Supportive Employment Program – providing a much-needed entry point to mainstream employment through volunteer and paid opportunities;
  • WISH’s Mobile Access Project Van – providing harm reduction supplies and peer support in the area; and
  • Transitions Program – a five-year program for sex workers seeking to reduce their reliance on sex work and/or to transition, retire, or exit the sex industry.