British Columbia

'The need is great': Volunteer group aims to help women move out of abusive homes

When Brian Vidler read an article about an organization in Toronto that offers free moving services to women fleeing abuse, he knew he needed to do something.

Volunteer organization aims to ease process of moving out for those in abusive relationships

Shelter Movers, which began in Toronto in 2016, will launch in Vancouver later this year. (Shelter Movers)

When Brian Vidler read an article about an organization in Toronto that offers free moving services to women fleeing abuse, he knew he needed to do something — so he called them up and found out how he could create a Vancouver chapter.

Later this year, Shelter Movers Vancouver will officially launch in an effort to make the difficult transition of leaving an abusive relationship a little bit easier.

"We know that the need is great. On an average day, there are about three women and two children leaving an abusive home," Vidler told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition.

"It's about 25 moves per week if we were to serve the entire Lower Mainland," added Vidler, now director of Shelter Movers Vancouver.

'Real impact'

Shelter Movers started in Toronto in 2016 and has since completed more than 300 moves.

It partners with local shelters to help identify women in need of the service.

Vidler says that women often decide to flee while their partner is out of the house and, because of that, often only take a handful of items, leaving behind clothing, keepsakes and their children's toys.

"That's where we're trying to move back in and help them take that stuff and put it into storage, which is something they often can't afford," said Vidler.

Shelter Movers relies completely on volunteers, who range from students to retirees. (Shelter Movers)

Vidler says the Vancouver chapter is 100 per cent volunteer run, with everyone from students to retirees pitching in to help.

In all, the organization has about 20 volunteers and all the money it raises from donations goes directly toward helping women.

"We're making a real impact to the women and we feel very good to be able to contribute," says Vidler.

Potential for conflict

Because of the potential for conflict during a move, Vidler and his team take extra measures to ensure the safety of their volunteers and clients.

They often work with local security firms and, on occasion, notify police when performing moves from homes with histories of extreme violence.

They also try to schedule a move while the partner is away.

Listen to the full interview with Brian Vidler below:

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