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More Than a Safe Place

YWCA transitional housing program is a real “turning point”

Looking up at the YWCA building from Saskatoon’s Kinsmen Park, you see a row of windows belonging to a group of incredibly determined women, residents in the YWCA Turning Points program. Located on one floor in the Crisis Shelter and Residence are 14 spaces for women who have experienced hardship in different ways, and are starting to turn their lives around and create their own better futures.

Women enter the YWCA Turning Points program through a referral and interview process. Many of the women who enter the program are experiencing issues with mental health, abuse and addiction.

“I had struggled with addiction since I was 12 years old,” writes ‘Brenda’, one former Turning Points resident, “For me, it was the only way to cope with what had happened to me as a child…I had lost my business, my home, and most importantly, my family.

“But about three years ago, something just turned in my head and I wanted to give myself a chance to live…but it was very difficult because I was not dealing with any of the underlying issues. It wasn’t long before I was hopeless again.”

It is the ability to address these underlying issues that distinguishes YWCA Turning Points and makes the program so successful. It provides safe, affordable, housing for women—but more than that—an environment, the necessary supports, and enough time, for women to deal with these underlying issues.

Brenda’s desire to start over was the fuel that she needed to succeed: “I had experienced for myself that there was another way. But I didn’t know how to live. I needed to get out on my own and become more independent.”

Women receive practical help with life skills, education, and connections to community resources so they can sustain stability once they are independent. They get help from the YWCA program facilitator to navigate obstacles and find solutions for positive, lasting changes.

“I felt safe and supported and comfortable to talk to the staff when I had a problem or needed help. Things that might be simple to other people are overwhelming to someone who has been consumed by addiction and living on the streets…the gym, sexual assault centre, family services, employment services and computer lab are all in the same building. There is 24 hour support day or night,” said Brenda.

“I have learned how to be around people, sober, how to resolve conflict and how to have healthy relationships. I am not the same person I was before I came to the program. Now, I share my story of recovery (with others). I am so grateful for this program, and how it’s helped me in all areas of my life.”

It is the individual successes of each woman in Turning Points which make our community stronger and healthier. Now living independently, the women who have now moved on still value this program and what it did for them. And our community values these outcomes, creating a city where everyone can thrive.