The Sistering Community Advisory Council has been established to strengthen ties and communication among Bloorcourt residents, shopkeepers, and Sistering participants and staff. This advisory council seriously listens 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.
Sistering is not a shelter; in fact, Sistering is one of only two low barrier 24/7 drop in centres for women in Toronto. In this capacity, Sistering supports women 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, and 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. And, there is a lack of beds for women. Toronto’s women’s shelters have been at 99% capacity for over a year, meaning women 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, women 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 women 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 women 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 drop in centre means Sistering accepts women as they are, and provides a safe, warm place for those who may have nowhere else to go.
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. And, they have explored every other avenue for outdoor space, including the back alley and rooftop, and found they are not possible. Sistering has assigned staff and peer workers, wearing purple Sistering lanyards (and soon will wear identifiable hats) to supervise the sidewalk area afternoons and evenings. They work to defuse difficult situations and encourage women to walk around the block for their cigarette breaks.
What is the make up of the committee?
The Sistering/Community Advisory Committee is comprised of residents, members of the Bloorcourt BIA, representatives of Municipal Government, and support staff from Sistering.
Understand the context within which Sistering operates.
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 Thursday of each month in the Bloorcourt neighbourhood. Meeting minutes are available for download: