Roundtable….. Well more like Conference in Edmonton!

13 October 2016

What a day yesterday was. Up there with one of the best working days of my life. My project plan specified a round table in every place I went….not a conference. Professor Lois Gander and Homeward Trust out did themselves. There were about 50 people from homelessness organisations, shelters, charities for indigenous people, province staff and the Minister for the Status of Women and Service – Stephanie McLeaned-agenda

I feel extremely honoured to have delivered the key note speech about the work of Peabody and DAHA. The rest of the day was spent in workshops discussing firstly how can systems and agencies support women experiencing domestic violence in accessing permanent housing and support them to move forward? And secondly what can landlords, property managers and housing providers do to support housing security for people experiencing domestic violence? (see programme)


The key themes and points from the first question were as follow:

  • A need for Increased awareness of the impact of residential schools and cultural differences. A shocking statistic for me from one of the tables is that indigenous women are 8 times more likely to be killed than white women. This is outrageous.
  • Support is a right not a privilege
  • Training is needed outside of the sector
  • Whether it would be better to centralise services?
  • Each case is unique so need to be mindful of not standardising everything so can continue to be flexible around individual’s needs
  • A need for increased housing options? Longer or shorter stays dependent on family/ need
  • Differences in risk assessments (SPDAT and Jacqueline Cambell’s) Which ones are going to be used and by who? Who is the lead? Mindful that do not want to re-traumatise person with multiple assessments
  • How do people access services? The need for  better pathways
  • In some cases a whole family approach is needed and essential
  • The need for relentless connectors (according to Peter Faid – our amazing facilitator I am one of these – what a compliment)
  • More research beyond Shelter
  • Being more accessible for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) and Young peopleconference-ed

And the second question:

  1. Training
  2. Publicity
  3. Funding
  4. Myth dispelling
  5. Legislation change
  6. More joined up working – reciprocal arrangements
  7. Change of edibility requirement for services
  8. Minimum standards for landlords………So DAHA!! My work here is done!

During the lunch break I was interviewed by the Edmonton Journal. This took me right back to ITV Brandy! (aka Laura Brander) Nothing will ever be more scary than that. And thank goodness I did not interrupt anyone famous this time!

Edmonton forum focuses on high rate of domestic violence

My big three take homes from this conference are:

  • Women need to make their own decisions and understand their situation better than anyone. As Jill Davies puts it in her book ‘Who she is will in many ways determine what advocacy she’ll define.’  And ‘Who he is is also likely to be important to her and her decision making.‘ (This book ‘Domestic Violence Advocacy is a MUST read)
  • We need to have a conference like this in the UK (thankfully City Hall is  lined up for this on 20th January courtesy of the Home Office)
  • We need to look at other housing options like Housing First but through the lens of women

Peter Faid closed the conference with Homeward Trust’s promise of a write up the day and further working groups to take the next steps forward. The highlight of the day for me was how honest, candid and respectful everyone was. It was great to see true collaboration even if the organisations aims and objectives were not always the same and not everyone agreed all of the time!

Gudrun Burnet
  • I spoke to one of my dearest friends last night & I got this wrong. I didn’t want to be tokenistic but now realise… ,