When we first learned about The Shelter Movers of Toronto, we were amazed by what they do. Something as simple as helping survivors of abuse safely move out of a home and store their items while in transition can easily be forgotten. We wanted to feature their story as they are providing a vital service for women and children escaping abuse in our community.
While on paternity leave with his daughter, Marc Hull-Jacquin, Executive Director of The Shelter Movers of Toronto came across a California-based moving company that offered to relocate domestic abuse survivors and their belongings for free. After some research, Marc found that no similar resource is available in his own community, or anywhere else in Canada. Compelled to fill the gap in Toronto’s patchwork of social services, Marc created The Shelter Movers of Toronto, a safe, respectful, no-cost moving and storage service supporting those fleeing abuse in the Greater Toronto Area.
The Need for Shelter Movers
When a survivor of domestic abuse decides to leave an abusive home, the cost, planning and logistics can create too many barriers for survivors to arrange without extra support. When children are involved the situation can become even more complicated. Without help, those fleeing abuse will often be able to take no more than what fits in their suitcase or in the back of a taxi. Photographs, clothes, children’s toys, and important documents tend to be left behind. Needless to say furniture.
The Shelter Movers is a federally incorporated non-profit organization that arranges urgent exit services, police escorted moves, resettlement assistance, and temporary storage for clients working with a shelter, police or social services. The organization is comprised of approximately 100 volunteers and corporate partners who share a vision where fleeing abuse is better supported and barrier-free for everyone.
Growth of a Movement
Support from the community for this service has been resoundingly positive. Since launching in early 2016, SMT’s corporate partners have generously donated storage space, moving vehicles, security services, suitcases, and training space for volunteers.
As SMT continues to grow and serve more clients, founder Marc Hull-Jacquin anticipates there will be a cultural shift for police, shelters and social services as they come to know and rely on this important service. Survivors report that, had The Shelter Movers existed when they were still in the abusive relationship, they would have been more likely to break the cycle of violence much sooner. Knowing their children’s clothing and personal items would be stored safely while they remained in the shelter. This service provides a tangible shift to the message shelters can now send to potential clients, unlocking a sizable percentage of clients who may otherwise not leave the abusive household. The organization hopes that by helping a survivor flee domestic abuse it will create a ripple effect of positive change. Empowering a survivor benefits them, their children, improves their economic well-being, and incites social change.
To learn more about The Shelter Movers of Toronto, visit sheltermovers.com.