Working with the Community

The Sistering Community Advisory Council

The Sistering Community Advisory Council has been established to strengthen ties and communications among Bloorcourt residents, shopkeepers, Sistering participants and staff. This advisory council listens seriously to concerns from all community members and stakeholders and is developing a canopy of resources, relationships and practices to facilitate safety and respect for us all.

The Advisory Council Terms of Reference are available for download.

Please read and share our communiqué. 

If you have any questions or comments about the Community Advisory Council please contact the Community Liaison, Aoife Mallon (amallon@sistering.org or 416.926.9762 ext: 232).

 

Meeting Minutes

Sistering held a Town Hall for the community in October 2017. The first Advisory Council Meeting was held in December 2017. The Council meets the second Tuesday of each month in the Bloorcourt neighbourhood.  Meeting minutes are available for download:

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is Sistering a shelter?

Sistering is not a shelter; in fact, Sistering is one of only two low barrier 24/7 drop in centres for cis women and trans people in Toronto. In this capacity, Sistering supports cis women and trans people from across Toronto who experience first-hand the impact of marginalization and poverty. They may be homeless, or are at risk of becoming homeless. Inside the drop in, Sistering provides three hot meals a day, soup and sandwiches overnight, as well as showers and laundry facilities, and many other support services. There is a housing crisis in Toronto, with a marked 40% increase in the demand for shelter and drop-in services over the past 18 months city wide with a pronounced lack of beds for women and trans people. Toronto’s women’s shelters have been at 99% capacity for over a year, meaning women and trans people are often turned away. The lack of shelter beds in Toronto means Sistering is forced to provide overnight space, even with no beds. There are only 12 reclining chairs and otherwise, participants sleep on the floor on yoga mats. A lack of outdoor space means Sistering participants gather in the small sidewalk space in front of the building.

 

Can participants use drugs inside the building?

Sistering is not a safe injection site, but they run a vital harm reduction program.  This peer-focused initiative helps those involved in substance use and/or sex work to build resiliency and improve their overall health and well-being.

 

What does “low barrier” mean?

Being a low barrier dropin centre means Sistering accepts participants as they are, and provides a safe, warm place for those who may have nowhere else to go. Unlike most shelters, participants are welcome to bring pets and personal belongings into Sistering, and are not required to sign in at the door. With a trauma-informed approach, staff build trust with participants as they interact with the space and its opportunities.

 

What’s going on with the facade?

Sistering has made improvements to the front entrance, including a sheltered seating area, creating additional space for passers-by.  Sistering has also explored every other avenue for outdoor space, including the back alley and rooftop, and have found these are not possible options. Sistering has assigned staff and peer workers, wearing purple Sistering lanyards to supervise the sidewalk area afternoons and evenings. They work to defuse difficult situations and encourage participants to walk around the block for their cigarette breaks.

 

What is the make-up of the Community Advisory Council?

The Sistering Community Advisory Committee is comprised of residents, members of the Bloorcourt BIA, representatives of Municipal Government, and staff from Sistering.

 

Resources

Understand the context within which Sistering operates.