Yesterday I visited the Wellington Women’s Boarding House (WWBH) and met with their manager Margaret and board member Belinda Sharp.
The WWBH provides a safe place for women to stay in difficult times. They have low-cost, temporary housing for women on low incomes and women in transition. The house was set up by members of the Wellington community who saw a need almost 25 years ago, and they’ve been providing valuable support for women without any government funding ever since.
The house is an oasis of calm in Mount Vic, central to everything. They provide clean, comfortable single rooms, and comfy communal spaces, with a free phone and internet, and support for women to plan the next stage in their life. Margaret is available to help with all range of things. Women can stay one to six months while they get themselves back on their feet or organise their next steps.
When I worked for refuge, more than 20 years ago, I was so grateful to be able to refer women to the boarding house when we were full, or the woman wanted to move on, or when their need wasn’t related to domestic violence. It’s wonderful to see they’re still providing this essential, comfortable safety net.
The need for the house has sadly only increased in the last 20 years. The boarding house takes 16 women at a time, and they have been full for most of the year. They have five women coming in for assessment this week alone and another two booked in for next week. Last year they had more than 200 referrals; this year already they’ve had 300.
As well as an increase in demand, they’re currently seeing a rise in the number of women over 60 needing accommodation. There aren’t enough options for older women on their own on low incomes.
The boarding house keeps going with rental money – which they keep as low as possible – and grants funding, but that has been declining due to increased competition for funding and fundraising.
WWBH is a wonderful example of a really effective community response to an identified need. I think the Government should get behind successful initiatives like this so they can use that knowledge and initiative to develop further.
In the absence of government funding they could really do with some of our cash.
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