A Safe Haven to End Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking
In honour of Black History Month, Innisfil Community Foundation (ICF) is highlighting Imani’s Place – a Black-led organization supporting women fleeing domestic violence and human trafficking situations.
ICF had the pleasure of meeting Imani’s Place founder, Lisa Ogbole, last fall when she and her team reached out to learn more about the Emergency Community Support Fund* (ECSF) that we were coordinating at the time. Lisa is a woman of colour who also identifies as a domestic violence survivor.
Lisa founded Imani’s Place and has created a diverse team of female survivors who can connect and identify with clients on multiple levels. “The hope is that this approach will allow for Imani’s Place clients to feel more comfortable, safe, valued and heard,” says Lisa. “Offering culturally specific and racially sensitive support for women allows them to begin their journey of healing.”
Sadly, a growing number of women are in need of crisis support as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Imani’s Place has seen a 60% increase in crisis calls for women seeking help – including an alarmingly high volume of calls from women within the Innisfil area.
There has been a spike in domestic violence across Canada and statistics show that COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on Black and racialized groups. “Discrimination is often a challenge that women of colour experience when seeking help,” explains Lisa. “Imani’s Place was founded to fill that void and urgent need for culturally specific and racially sensitive support for women.”
Anne Kell, President of ICF’s Board of Directors, had the opportunity to visit Imani’s Place during the ECSF grant process. “When we read the Imani’s Place grant application, we were very impressed with the work Lisa and her team are doing,” says Anne. “But we didn’t know too much about the organization and wanted to learn more. From the moment I walked in, there was an outpouring of warmth. When I saw how supportive staff were while interacting with their clients, I knew that Imani’s Place was doing something special.”
ICF awarded an ECSF grant to Imani’s Place to help fund an outreach worker position. The outreach worker works hard to advocate for Imani’s Place and its clients. She stays connected and in constant communication with their clients. She constantly seeks for ways to support her clients – from finding emergency housing to connecting women with resources and supports, to helping provide basic necessities. Even when she is unable to locate emergency crisis beds, an outreach worker who is invested in the well-being of women in the community can invoke significant change.
“Our outreach worker has been working tirelessly to support our clients in the house and women who are not currently residents of the house,” Lisa reports. “We’re thankful for this grant and the opportunity it has given us to provide this most needed service to our women in Innisfil and surrounding areas.”
To learn more about Imani’s Place visit imanisplace.org. If you’re experiencing violence or are in an unsafe situation, call Imani’s Place’s 24-hour hotline: 1-800-507-6860
*The Emergency Community Support Fund was made possible by the Government of Canada.