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Women’s shelters: Enhancing Impact to End Violence


In 2016, Shift partnered with the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, YWCA, Calgary and Turner Strategies to strategize on how to enhance the impact of women’s shelters to help end violence. The partners developed Shelter 2.0: Discussion Paper by undertaking a review of best and promising practices encompassing shelter services for women fleeing violence in Canada and internationally to understand opportunities for shelters within the broader violence prevention movement. In addition, we consulted with experts in the field, both organizations went through an extensive review/assessment and consultation process, and the core themes of the research were presented at Canada’s First National Shelter Conference for Women Fleeing Violence in Ottawa (June 2018) where evaluations were completed by close to 100 practitioners from across Canada.  


The Shelter 2.0 discussion paper proposes a new paradigm for women’s shelter operations, focusing on shelter objectives, service models, policies and practices. The focus on practices and services at the shelter level proposes evolving the traditional crisis response by adding deliberate interventions that include supporting the broader goal of preventing and ending violence. Shelter 2.0 proposes a holistic definition of violence and the intentional development of a system planning approach to prevent and end violence.


The discussion paper aims to stimulate direction-setting conversations through which we can begin to develop a possible prototype for the re-visioned model that could be tested and refined. Further consideration and analysis is necessary to debate and refine the concepts presented. We recognize the experience and approach presented draws heavily on two women’s shelters in Calgary. This infers limitations on scaling which puts parameters on the ideas presented. These ideas should be examined within local contexts and probed further through thoughtful implementation, continuous improvement and evaluation.


The authors believe, status quo is not an option and encourages advocates, policymakers and practitioners to challenge, build and further refine Shelter 2.0.


Shelter 2.0 Discussion Paper                         Background Report for Shelter 2.0         

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