The Women Shelter’s Association runs two shelters, one in Reykjavík and one in Akureyri
Women and their children can stay at the shelters when they cannot stay at home due to violence on behalf of a partner or other members of the household. The shelters are also for women who have been raped and for women who are victims of trafficking.
During the stay, women are offered interviews with the shelter’s consultants. The interviews can be in the form of general consultation, advice, support, information access and/or guidelines.
It varies how long women have to stay at the shelter and what type of service they are in need for. On arrival at the shelter the woman is provided with a room for herself and her children (bed, duvets, pillows and linen all provided). The stay is free of charge for the women and their children.
During stay at the shelter, women and their children are provided with food and necessary cleaning products, free of charge.
At the shelter women have access to a free wifi, washing machine and a dryer.
Children at the Shelter
The mothers are responsible for their children during their stay at the shelter, but members of staff and volunteers also do their best to support the children. During the recent year the consultants at the shelter introduced new procedures regarding work with the children in the shelter. Children who have reached the age of six will receive interviews from consultants where they get information on the shelter, education about what is violence and an opportunity to express themselves on their feelings and emotions. They are introduced to the children’s house rules and shown the animation “Let’s talk about violence” which the Women’s Shelter designed and produced for exactly this purpose.
There is an aim to help and assist the children, who have to come and stay at the shelter, to increase their quality of life by creating fun and entertaining activities. At the shelter there is a group of volunteers which is partly in charge of the children’s activities, which might be going for a walk, go to the playground nearby, visit the zoo, go to the cinema or theatre or go for a swim in a nearby swimming pool. The activities are organized in correlation to the status at the house each day and as well as to children’s age. If the conditions outside are not convenient, there is a space indoors where children can paint, play cards, watch a movie or just play. The aim for these activities is also for the mothers to get some time for themselves.
Life at the Shelter
There is a rich emphasis on confidentiality at the shelter, on everything which goes on between a member of staff and the women who stay at the shelter. We also ask the women who stay at the shelter to keep information they receive from each other, to keep that information for themselves. Furthermore, the address of the Women’s Shelter is not public.
The ideology of the work at the shelter is that the woman is a specialist in her own case and that she only needs temporary assistance to deal with her circumstances, and rebuild her life without violence. Women are provided with support interviews during their stay, furthermore they are empowered by communicating with other women, with similar experience, who also have to stay at the shelter.
Members of staff and women who stay at the shelter divide housework. There are few but important rules in the house, who aim to keep the stay simple and smooth. Here are rules on children’s bedtime for an example, but in general the aim of house rules is to create security and consistency in the work being carried out at the shelter, in order to increase the effectiveness of the stay.
The shelter is a beautiful and homey house which attempts to mimic a normal family life. Women are encouraged to take time to rest and relax in order to gain power for the future steps. Women get assistance on getting in touch with authorities who can assist them, such as the police, social services, lawyers and other professionals. When women have left the shelter, they can continue to seek consultation and support, and take part in self-help groups in order to continue strengthening themselves.
The Women‘s shelter is a home.