Women Experiencing Homelessness, Women’s Health Drop-In Days

I am sure you have heard the phrase “more hands lighten the load”.  I cannot help but think of a better statement to describe the planning, volunteering, donations and delivery of care during our Women’s Health Drop-in Days on August 25 and 26 at Willow’s Place.  Amidst all of the pressures in our system right now, members of the Greater Hamilton Health Network have been quietly coming together for months to plan a low-barrier, free and accessible event for women, trans and gender diverse persons experiencing homelessness in Hamilton. Partners came together to deliver covid-19 vaccinations, preventative health screening including pap smears and STI testing, naloxone training, housing supports, peer support, contraception, smoking cessation, primary care, food, giveaways and more. Over the span of 2 days, 57 women accessed the event. Not only were health and social services available for access, but we also had the chance through conversation and surveys to gather important feedback from women on their own needs, wants and fears about access in the current system. These important insights will be taken back to the GHHN Women’s Homeless Working Group. 

Everyone truly worked as organizations without boundaries, all coming to the table with what we had to give to support the community of women experiencing homelessness.  I want to reflect on the planning process for this event and recognize that every single partner, large and small, rose to the challenge to offer their time, expertise and care. The response to help was so great that we actually had to turn some volunteers away for this first event (due to social distancing measures). It was a sweltering hot two days for the event but that did not stop the over 20 volunteers from coming, setting up spaces in parking lots, working with small rooms to see clients and being pragmatic and creative in supporting women and meeting them where they are at. Together we can accomplish so much and the GHHN looks forward to more events like this! I cannot thank everyone enough, for me personally, it was the most important 2 days of work I have had yet at the Greater Hamilton Health Network.