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Recently, we introduced you to Shirin, one of our long-time Women’s Counsellor Advocates. Each month, we’ve been shadowing Shirin to give you an idea of what a day’s work is like as a counsellor at Interval House.
When women move out of Interval House, staff members like Shirin help them to settle into their new homes. While their stay at Interval House is temporary – just an Interval – the support we extend to women and kids doesn’t end on moving day.
Today is the big moving day for Emmanuelle*. Emmanuelle is a bit older than some of the other residents – in her late 50s. When she first moved into the shelter, Emmanuelle was often sad and kept to herself. But over the course of her stay, Shirin has seen her begin to relax and become more positive.
“She really enjoyed the counselling groups,” says Shirin. “She gained a lot of knowledge from them and connected with the other women.”
Emmanuelle doesn’t speak English as a first language, so when she first moved into the shelter, a few of her new friends would translate for her. But she doesn’t need their help anymore – from working with an ESL tutoring volunteer, Emmanuelle’s English skills have improved and she can get by on her own.
Shirin has been working with Emmanuelle to find housing since she moved into the shelter. Together, they found a nice apartment that will feel like home for Emmanuelle, in a neigbourhood that she likes.
A few days ago, in preparation for the move, they went shopping together in the Household Boutique to pick out everything that Emmanuelle needs for her new home. She was so excited to pick out the dishes, towels, microwave and other items that she wanted to furnish her new place – and couldn’t believe all of it was donated from the community (http://www.intervalhouse.ca/take-action/kind-donations).
Last week, when she first got possession of the apartment, Emmanuelle went to clean and start moving in some of her things. Her friend from the shelter, Sheila*, accompanied her to help.
“It’s common for the women to make great friendships like that,” says Shirin. “For the women who are staying behind in the shelter, they feel happy for their friends and want to help them. They also wonder: when will it happen for me?”
What is Shirin’s hope for women like Emmanuelle when they leave Interval House?
“I hope that they have a life free from violence,” says Shirin. “That they will never have anyone abuse them, and just be safe and happy.”
This is the final post in our series taking you step-by-step through a day in the life of a counsellor at Interval House.
*Names and some details have been changed for safety and privacy.