Program & Services

Building Economic Self-Sufficiency (BESS)

Helping Women Thrive

We believe in listening to women and in offering innovative, dynamic programs to meet their unique needs. As detailed in an Interval House led study, Women survivors of intimate partner violence face a wide range of barriers that compound one another. The sheer number of barriers there are to overcome is a barrier in and of itself. We are here to help break down these barriers.

To truly break the cycle of violence, women need financial security, safe and affordable housing, and to believe in a brighter future. In our community, women escaping violence are empowered to leave violence behind forever.

Available to Interval House residents as well as other survivors of intimate partner violence living in the Greater Toronto Area, our BESS program connects women with the tools to rebuild and transform their lives after abuse. By providing access to education, professional skills training, life skills workshops, financial and housing assistance, job opportunities, professional wardrobe options, and counselling, BESS helps set women at all stages of the healing journey on the path to living independently, safely, and comfortably. The BESS counsellors and facilitators help each client tailor the program to their own needs for the best results and women take the modules that are relevant to them at their own pace.

Because balance is important, we also arrange social gatherings to help facilitate community building that is so essential to a well rounded life. Twice a year, we celebrate! Our holiday party and summer picnic both serve to bring past and present clients together to connect, unwind, and appreciate the journey to freedom they’ve taken.

Our Building Economic Self-Sufficiency services include:

A Women’s Counsellor is a new addition to the BESS team. The Women’s Counsellor helps facilitate healing from psychological trauma resulting from intimate partner violence. The trauma impacts all aspects of their lives and can have severe effects on employability. The Counsellor works one on one with clients to provide informal, supportive counselling to address some of the barriers that are coming between a survivor and their goals.

At the core of the BESS Program are employment services for clients who are considering going back to work. The Employment Counsellor assists clients with their job search goals, their résumé writing and interview skills, and helps clients to gain meaningful employment while assessing and supporting their readiness to work. When our clients are work ready, they are supported by our Job Developer who is connected to current and potential employers and advocates for clients while also preparing clients to be successful in gaining and maintaining meaningful employment.

If you are interested in becoming an employment partner, please contact 416-924-1411 ext. 229

Finding safe, affordable housing is an essential step in the journey to economic self-sufficiency and independence, which is why our Housing Services are the most important part of BESS. Housing Workers support each client with their housing needs, whether they are looking for subsidized housing, private market housing, or advice regarding housing-related issues.

The BESS Program supports our clients through the transition to safe and affordable housing as well as after they have moved, based on their individual needs. As an example of the support provided, we help clients navigate their new communities, find affordable or donated home furnishings, access financial resources and make community connections. We aim to make the transition as smooth and comfortable as possible.

As part of our Housing Services, Interval House works with private landlords to offer women in our BESS Program rent-geared-to-income apartments for one year. Along with the coaching they receive, participants get resettlement counselling to ensure a smooth transition. The goal is to help women move to paying full market rent after their one-year lease is up.

Our current landlord partners are Minto Management Limited, CAPREIT, and Oxford Properties. With the help of the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario, we are recruiting more landlords to participate. If you are interested in becoming a landlord partner, please contact 416-924-1411 ext. 234

Our workshops in BESS are geared to addressing the particular barriers women who have experienced intimate partner violence have faced. Some of our workshops include:

  • Am I Ready? Finding Work When I’m Feeling Lost
  • Overcoming Interview Anxiety
  • How to Keep My Job While I Work Through Abuse
  • How To Find Housing After Abuse On a Single Income
  • Building Boundaries to Protect Your Needs
  • Beating Procrastination
  • Negative Thoughts Do Not Define You
  • Not Ready? Not a Problem! Goal Setting when we’re just not there yet
  • Facing your fears
  • Self-care and Check-ins

Click here for a list of our upcoming workshops.

In addition to self-referrals, BESS welcomes referrals from other agencies working with women survivors of intimate partner abuse who are ready to make a change. For more information, you can email bess@intervalhouse.ca or call us at 416-924-1411 Ext. 279.