Women's Centre of Calgary
Our Story Why We Exist
“The Women’s Centre has helped me with food and other items and with information. It’s helped make a difference by making life a little easier because I currently have no home or income at the moment and it gives me a place to go, think, and get stuff arranged.”
The Women’s Centre is a safe space where all women are welcome to grab a cup of coffee, chat with others and learn about the many ways women, staff and volunteers all work together to strengthen our communities.
In 2016, we responded to more than 100,000 contacts from women in Calgary. From employed women who cannot afford bus tickets to get to work, to mothers with small children needing emergency food hampers, to new immigrant women coming to our Practice English groups, we continue to support and connect women through our services.
We are providing more basic needs assistance to women in need more than ever before. We are working to maintain a safe place for women to build community, to receive assistance and help in return as they are able. And we are facilitating opportunities for women to address the underlying causes of the situations they deal with.
In 2015, we served a diverse community of women:
- 52% are dealing with poverty
- 21% are, or have been, homeless or living in a shelter
- 38% are raising child(ren) or have raised child(ren) as a single parent
- 40% are experiencing or have experienced a violent relationship
Our Impact What We Do
Every day, the Women’s Centre provides a safe and supportive space accessed by hundreds of women in Calgary. While the Women’s Centre is open to all women, many of the women who access our services are living in poverty.
We believe in the potential of every woman, and that women are strong and capable. Our approach starts by recognizing that women are experts in their own lives, and they know best what they need. We also recognize that systemic barriers often prevent women from living the lives they want. Through our work for change initiatives, we advocate for systemic and policy changes that will positively impact the lives of women.
Our trust-based work, supported by more than 690 active volunteers, is centered on a philosophy of women helping women. Enabling a woman to both get support and give back as she is able provides her with opportunities to feel valued and to maintain a sense of dignity and belonging. At the Women’s Centre, every woman’s participation is equally respected and valued. We know that diverse participation is necessary for the community to benefit from the strengths and perspectives that women hold.
- Our Mission: To be every woman’s place for support, connections and community.
- Our Vision: Women supporting communities, communities supporting women.
Our Programs How We Do It
Our programs are developed in response to identified gaps in the community and are flexible and responsive to women’s changing needs.
Basic Needs Access | We recognize that meeting basic needs is a prerequisite for well-being and for a better life. Some of the direct assistance we provide to women includes emergency food, bus tickets, birthday and holiday gifts for children, and access to personal supplies such as pregnancy kits, diapers and condoms. In addition, when women, and their children, visit the Centre, they offered hot drinks, baking and fresh fruit, free of charge. We also refer women to other programs and agencies for a wide range of support. Referrals include, but are not limited to food, clothing, furniture, housing, utilities, haircuts, and education and employment assistance.
Computer and Technology Access | We provide women with free access to computers with internet, a photocopier, a fax machine, and telephones. Women use this equipment to prepare for work opportunities, to complete schoolwork and to stay connected with family and friends. We also provide a mail service for women without permanent mailing addresses and take telephone messages for women.
Girl Power Programming | The Women’s Centre offers Girl Power Camps in the spring and summer to mentor young girls (10-12) and promote basic values of equality, self-determination and empowerment. There is also an after school program on Tuesdays and Thursdays for girls 10-13 years old. The programs are free of charge with expenses such as transportation, meals, and supplies covered by the Centre.
Legal Advice & Tax Clinics | Volunteers provide free legal advice and income tax clinics for women. Our legal advice clinics are aimed at providing women with the preliminary information and support they may need to access the legal system in the areas of family and non-family law. Volunteers who prepare taxes for women also provide information on how to access benefits such as GST rebates, Canada child tax benefit and provincial child benefits.
Peer Support | Trained volunteers help women by listening, exploring options and providing non-therapeutic support, unique to each woman and circumstance. We also provide safety planning with women in potentially dangerous situations and we work with other agencies addressing violence.
Social Issues Work | In addition to helping women meet their basic needs and create community, we strive to give all women opportunities to get involved in social justice issues and have a voice in public policy.
Workshops & Groups | Every year, we offer more than 200 free informal adult education sessions ranging in topics from computer skills, yoga, parenting, and self-defense to international women’s issues, crafts, stress management, and self-esteem. Ongoing groups include Practice English and a community group for women with developmental disabilities.
Our Requests What You Can Do
There are so many ways you can get involved at the Women’s Centre.
Volunteering | We count on over 750 active volunteers for everything from peer support, to food day set-up, to taxes and legal advice. Visit our website to see a list of current opportunities.
Become a Monthly Donor | Monthly donations help us work and plan more effectively. When you become a monthly donor your gift will provide a reliable stream of support that is so vital to continuing the Women’s Centre’s important work. Click here to donate online.
Attend or Host a Workshop | Thanks to the help of volunteers, we are able to host a variety of workshops throughout the year. Topics range from computer skills, yoga, self defense and international women’s issues. Check out our calendar to learn more about upcoming events.