“NYWC has played a pivotal role in where I am today.”

North York Women's Centre offers a one-on-one support for women in Toronto.

Over the years, North York Women’s Centre has supported tens of thousands of women who needed a supportive and listening ear, as well as connections to services in their community.

NYWC is well-known for its empowering women’s group programs that help participants advocate for themselves, celebrate their wins or take steps toward safety and income security. Yet people may not realize the volume of one-on-one support that NYWC provides for women who are struggling or in crisis.

“Every day, we have calls, email exchanges and visits with women who are overwhelmed,” says Iris Fabbro, Executive Director of NYWC. “Whether they’re newcomers to Canada, women experiencing violence at home or individuals having difficulty accessing services for themselves or their families, NYWC makes a difference in their lives.”

Creating change for women

At NYWC, we know that it can feel overwhelming or intimidating to get help or answers when you have a problem. Among other things, we offer non-judgmental and confidential 1:1 support to listen and to act as a bridge connecting you with appropriate support services in North York, Toronto and Ontario. Women can access these services by calling or texting 416-781-0479, emailing info@nywc.org or making an appointment to visit the Centre at 116 Industry Street.

“We help empower women to make positive changes in their lives,” says Diamond Antwi-Mansah, Manager of NYWC’s Programs & Services, who recalls one recent encounter. “A woman and gender-based violence survivor dropped in for help, because she wanted assistance navigating social support systems, rebuilding her confidence and finding new work. We registered her for the Women’s Empowerment Series, which gave her the confidence to find a job. As she said, ‘Your Centre helped me so much.’”

Combatting period poverty

The post-pandemic economy has left many Toronto women and mothers struggling to stay financially afloat, so NYWC directs them to helpful resources in addition to distributing donated products.

“Recently, someone came into NYWC because she had heard that we have free menstrual products available,” recalls Fabbro. “She said that her 11-year-old daughter had just started her period, which has more than doubled the cost of buying menstrual products for her family. When she saw that the bag I gave her included body wash, too, she started to cry. She had one bottle at home that she had been diluting more and more to make it last as long as possible.”

Connecting women to housing and employment services

Emily Charman, NYWC’s Group Programs Coordinator, says it’s incredibly rewarding to see women flourishing as they move from their first contact with the Centre to finishing programs.

“I initially spoke with a person in crisis needing to leave an unsafe housing situation, for example,” says Charman. “Through the referrals I offered, they were able to secure temporary safe housing and will be moving into permanent housing in the next few weeks. They have also become more open and confident while participating in our STEPS to Work program.”

Empathetic listening

Sometimes people just need a neutral person to talk to and confide in. One NYWC volunteer says she was sharing information about free resume writing services and employment webinars with a jobseeker when the woman on the phone began to cry.

“She disclosed that she had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and that she was struggling to muster up the courage to tell her family. I listened with compassion and directed her to a cancer support group, but she was most appreciative just to have someone listen.”

How to access one-to-one support for women

Reach out if you or another woman-identifying or non-binary person needs assistance. For instance, we can help you with a variety of difficulties, whether you’re concerned about your safety or the safety of others, or if you need help understanding and filling out forms.

You can access NYWC’s free, non-judgmental and confidential one-to-one support services by calling or texting 416-781-0479 between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Thursday and 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Friday. Or email info@nywc.org to connect, set up a video call, or make an appointment to visit us in person.

If you’d like to make a difference in women’s lives too, find out more about North York Women’s Centre, make a donation and visit our Volunteering and Jobs sections.

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