SheROes is a peer-led outreach program that engages women living in privately-owned Single Room Occupancy hotels (SROs) and most recently in camps, providing practical and social support and connecting women with community resources. It began as a response to the many women living in these SROs who were isolated and whose needs were not being met. The peer support workers provide social connection, distribute sandwiches and snacks and other helpful items, and support women in the navigation of health and social services.
In November 2015, a woman came to Atira staff and told them that she and other women in privately-owned SROs were experiencing times when they were not feeling well and did not have anyone to support them in accessing health services, getting groceries, or connecting with other supports in the community. She also reported that many women were isolated in their rooms and had no friends or anyone to talk to. In response, Atira launched the SheROes program in February 2016.
- Reduce isolation for peer support workers and women living in targeted SROs
- Link women to community resources
- Increase women’s overall wellbeing
- Empower peer support workers and women living in targeted SROs
- Showcase the power of peer support
During the first three months, the program reached 86 women across five hotels, with the average number of visits per participant ranging from 8-14 (depending on the hotel).
Shared lived experience by the peer support workers has been important to the successes of the program. The peers are able to draw on their personal experiences and knowledge of the community to connect with women living in the SROs and to inform program delivery (e.g., times of the day and the time of month where women are accessible). A program that provides ‘inreach’ to the women living in the SROs appears to be meeting a gap in services in the community – many of the women living in the SROs were found to have little connection to other resources and supports. Opportunities for expanding the program’s effectiveness include developing connections with existing services.
Alex Hawes, Program Coordinator