An organization that gets people out of violent situations is coming to the South Shore.
Shelter Movers provides everything from an escort to a full team of movers and a truck for anyone looking to escape domestic violence.
Nova Scotia chapter director Suzanne Rent says partnership with local support services is key to their operation.On the South Shore, they’ve partnered with Harbour House and Second Story Women’s Centre.
“That’s what we do in Halifax and all of the cities we work in because that’s where we get our referrals, it’s the transition houses or the women’s centres who call us and say they have a client who needs to move,” said Rent.
Shelter Movers offer three types of move: an urgent exit where the client is safely transported to a shelter or safe space, an escorted move where a client will be escorted back into their home by volunteers to collect their things, and resettlement where volunteers pack and move the client and all their belongings to a new home.
Rent says through her work she’s learned there continues to be a lot of stigma around domestic violence.
“It’s still really considered a private issue, a family issue.,” said Rent. “Women don’t want to come forward, especially in smaller communities.”
According to statistics released by the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, domestic violence rates among women in Nova Scotia are more than three times higher than men. And rates for both women and men have increased across Canada according to the latest data available.
Rent says communities need to acknowledge the problem of domestic violence.
“It’s important that people know that this exists because we hear a lot of the bigger headlines of domestic violence cases - of course, the shootings in April that started in Portapique, that started with a domestic violence incident, but there are a lot of cases we don’t hear about,” said Rent.
Shelter Movers began in Toronto in 2016 when founder Marc Hull-Jacquin realized how difficult and dangerous it could be for survivors to try to leave their abusers.
The organization has grown to include Ottawa, Vancouver and Nova Scotia. Since arriving in Halifax in July of 2019, Shelter Movers has completed 160 moves in the Halifax area.
Shelter Movers is just now setting up their operation in Bridgewater, which will service the area an hour around the town.
Rent says the South Shore location, which aims to open in October, is the start of a planned expansion to provide their service in communities across Nova Scotia. She is looking for volunteer drivers and movers as well as people to work on marketing their service to the broader community.
To learn more about Shelter Movers or to volunteer, follow this link.
Reported by Ed Halverson