Elizabeth Fry Toronto
Our Impact Why We Exist
We share a vision of a society that ensures all women have the dignity and capacity to make informed choices about their lives and avoid conflict with the law.
We are committed to:
Agency – to be instrumental in our lives and the lives of others
Dignity – to ensure each person is regarded as worthy, honoured and esteemed
Diversity – to respect and celebrate human difference
Innovation – to create change that makes things better
Resilience – to recover from and adjust to change and challenge
Our Community impact consists of the following:
- 300 volunteers engaged annually with 6,324 hours of service provided to the agency
- 54 visits to prisons annually; with support given to more than 13,000 individuals;
- 6,192 client served through the agency's court program on an annual basis; including 911 people diverted from court through the Direct Accountability program.
- 991 new women served through counselling programs
- Community programs service 863 new women each year
Our Story What We Do
History of Organization
In 1951, a group of women from the First Unitarian Church met to discuss the need for a community based agency to serve women in conflict with the law. On May 13, 1952 The Elizabeth Fry Society of Toronto was officially formed and held its first public meeting. The first office was comprised of two rooms on Jarvis Street. In 1955 the agency moved to Yorkville Avenue, where the first residence opened in 1958. On June 23, 1970 the current community programs and residence opened. In 2006 Post Incarceration Housing Support Program started and shortly thereafter the Homeless and Outreach Department was formed to focus on education and prevention. Today the agency houses a comprehensive range of programs and services
"This experience has been one of the best things that has happened to me. I have learned so much and it has given me the knowledge and skills I need to grow and continue as a better person."
- Elizabeth Fry client
Our Programs How We Do It
Elizabeth Fry Toronto is the only agency in the city of Toronto dedicated to serving women who are, have been or are at risk of being in conflict with the law. Advocating for alternatives to the criminal justice system as well as working to raise critical awareness about the challenges faced by criminalized women is a major focus of the agency's work. In 2014 Elizabeth Fry Toronto adopted “Sustainable Livelihoods” – a wraparound service model that responds to the overlapping situation of criminalization, poverty, trauma, mental health and addictions experienced at a high rate among our target population. To meet the needs of our clients the agency offers a comprehensive basket of services that includes trauma informed counselling, residential housing, employment, parenting, peer-leadership and court support programming.
Counselling Services Elizabeth Fry Toronto provides a broad range of counseling services to women who are, have been, or are at risk of conflict with the law, both in the community and institutions. Our counsellors work from a women centered, non-judgmental approach and utilize a counseling model that customizes service plans to the individual needs and concerns of our clients. Counseling is available Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and all individual services are free of charge. Services include:
- Healing from Abuse & Trauma Services Provides individualize counselling and advocacy for women who have experienced abuse of any sort including: domestic assault, childhood abuse, sexual abuse and abuse in the context of cults and child pornography as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The service aims to assist women establishing of a sense of physical and psychological safety and wellness while helping to bring balance and hope back into their lives of our clients.
- Reintegration Counselling Services Provides one-to-one and group counseling for women on provincial probation and parole. Using a harm reduction framework, clients are provided with the skills and resources necessary to develop alternatives to theft, fraud, and substance use behaviors.
- Parenting Services Offers support to mothers reuniting with families post or during incarceration. The goal of this service is to develop strong and responsive parenting skills among women who have been separated from their children, had to parent while in prison or are rebuilding family relationships upon institutional release. This service also offers women information on how to discipline with love, provides strategies for building positive self-esteem in children and offers tools for effective communication with their children.
- Community General Counselling Services Provides counseling supports to women in the community dealing with a broad range of social, economic and justice disadvantages. Through this service, women are timely, accurate information pertaining to their legal rights, health and safety and alternatives to at risk behaviors.
Phyllis Haslam Residential Program The Residential Program provides women who are on parole from provincial or federal prisons with a place to call home. For most women this is a critical period in which they not only transition to a life outside institutions, but also begin the process of reintegrating back into the community and adopting lifestyle changes that contribute to long-term life success.
Many women arrive at the residence after a series of conflicts with the law or terms of incarceration and face the challenges of poverty, compromised life skills, low education and lack of familial supports. Residence staff work alongside each resident to address her unique needs by assisting with the development of a life plan that incorporates education, employment, rebuilding family ties and the overall re-entry into community after spending months, sometimes years, in institutions.
- is on parole, probation or long-term supervision order
- is referred from Correctional Services Canada or Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
- wants to make changes in her life
- can benefit from our approach to service, support, & structure
- The satellite locations include a mother-child residence
Community Outreach Programs Elizabeth Fry Toronto provides unique programs in support of women who have experienced homelessness, are at-risk of conflict with the law or have experienced such conflict. Programs include:
- B.E.S.T Pre-employment Program The B.E.S.T is an acronym for Building Employment Strategies Together program recognizes that involvement with the criminal justice system negatively affects women’s employment opportunities. BEST’s multi-dimensional approach to pre-employment focuses on addressing the barriers to employment through education and training to expand employment opportunities for its clients. This program also assists women in securing employment.
- Record Suspension (Pardon) Information Service Provides assistance to women who have been in conflict with the law in submitting pardon applications to the National Parole Board of Canada.
- Girl’s Circle This is an innovative program for young women ages 13-24 that focuses on drug prevention, mitigating unsafe situations and building positive leadership. This program creates a space for young women to acknowledge and build on their strengths while making meaningful contributions to the communities in which they belong.
- Work Safe Offers supports to women and female transgendered sex workers to increase their state of wellness and reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and other STIs. Harm reduction education, supplies and counselling supports are offered to clients through this program.
Our Court Program features:
- Direct Accountability Program is available to individuals who have been charged with a minor criminal offence;
- Partner Abuse Response Program provides group counselling for women charged in domestic violence situations; and
- Court Support Program provides aid and clarification of court process, information and referrals to community resources, referrals to lawyers assistance with applying for Legal Aid.
Volunteer and Student Placement Program One of the keys to our success as agency rests with volunteers and students who embody the spirit of helping others and supporting the work that takes place within the social justice sector. Our agency has and continues to grow because of our dedicated volunteers and students who work to extend the vision of Elizabeth Fry Toronto to our local community.
What You Can Do
It is the mission of Elizabeth Fry Toronto to serve woman with complex needs and at risk for conflict with the law. To meet this mandate we rely on the generosity of individuals and businesses for support. Without the assistance of social-justice minded persons like you, we would be unable to offer the lifelines of support we provide to the many women who access our services each year. You can support our work by:
· Becoming a volunteer
· Joining the agency's monthly giving program
· Making a personal financial donation or pledge
· Making a gift in honour of or in memory of a loved one
· Recommending Elizabeth Fry Toronto to your employer's Matching Gifts program or Employee Charitable Donations program