An initiative aimed at helping victims of domestic violence has opened a new location in Waterloo Region.
Chapter Director of Shelter Movers Waterloo Region, Amanda Levine said they have closely aligned with partners in the area.
"So that would include Women's Crisis Service or any of the other shelters or any other social service agencies in the area. We are also in talks with the local police because during some of our high-risk moves, there's a chance that the abuser may be present so we do need police presence or private security."
Levine said Shelter Movers is a volunteer-based program that provides moving and storage services for women and children experiencing abuse.
"We coordinate security personnel, language interpreters ... to meet our clients' needs, all at no cost to them or the referral agency that they work with. So we're trying to remove the financial burden in having to leave the situation as well as some of the emotional impact as well by insuring that she is supported during that journey and that she is able to hold on to her belongings."
She said the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives listed K-W as the least safe city for women out of 26 metropolitan cities in Canada.
"Given the pandemic that's occurred, there's a significant increase in the violence reported and we certainly have seen that in our other chapters of Shelter Movers. Prior to the pandemic, we were averaging about 50 moves per month and we are now averaging about 100 moves per month, so there are significant increases there."
She noted the increases could be related to the social isolation caused by the pandemic, or added stress on the family which can lead to violence.