Helping Break the Silence

The SCWCA is giving voices to newcomer families who need support during COVID-19

“We did not expect to get as many clients as we have received and to be able to reach out and help so many people in need,” says Sahra Hashi, Executive Director of the Somali Canadian Women and Children Association (SCWCA).

This need was brought to light on May 15, 2020, when the SCWCA conducted a virtual community consultation with 30 families in order to get the community involved at all levels in their programs. The consultation was done to identify needs and set priorities during the current pandemic. With 90% of responses from families indicating that family violence and conflicts with mental health problems were prevalent, the SCWCA initiated the project  to respond to these needs.

The project, ‘Together: Improving the lives of newcomer families during COVID-19’ was granted $50,000 through Edmonton Community Foundation in partnership with The Government of Canada’s $350-million Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) which aims to help charities and non-profit organizations adapt and increase frontline services for vulnerable populations during the pandemic.

“An organization like SCWCA, which is led by the community it serves, is usually best placed to identify emerging needs and to find the right solutions,” Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Engagement said.

The grant will go a long way helping to address several needs in the community.

“The funding has allowed us to reach newcomer families that have been affected by COVID-19,” Hashi said. “These families were suffering in isolation and in silence. Spending a lot of time at home with an abusive partner is hard and can be dangerous for anyone in that household.

The funding has allowed us to hire a staff member who is experienced in mental health and family violence, create workshops and information sessions on non violence. Through case management, at-risk families were identified.”

Also, since the clients they service are low-income, they are also offered monthly food hampers through their collaboration with the Food Bank.

“We would like to say ‘thank you’ to the Edmonton Community Foundation to have given us the opportunity to be funded through this initiative,” adds Hashi. “Not only has it allowed us to help current clients, but it has allowed SCWCA to be known as a grassroot organization here to support people in need.”

Together, the Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations of Canada and United Way Centraide Canada are collaborating with the Government of Canada to flow ECSF support to those who need it most right now.

Learn more about ECF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.