Our Advocacy Program continues to assist our guests with various types of concerns and attempts to break down the various barriers that many poor and homeless women face each day. The Advocacy Program currently is comprised of Individual Advocacy and the Resource Center.
Through the Individual Advocacy Program, we are able to establish relationships of trust with women in need. Our Individual Advocacy staff members listen closely to the women as they describe their situation, provide empathy, and then provide options to assist them in their situation. Services are provided in a non-judgmental manner and Guests are always allowed to make their own choices regarding their lives. Many of the matters that women present to our staff are deeply personal and difficult to even discuss, much less act to change. Our Individual Advocacy Program makes sure that the women are supported through all the challenges they face, as often underlying circumstances are compounding the issues faced every day by our Guests. We provide our services via a drop-in model or by appointment, if a Guest prefers that option.
Our Individual Advocacy staff members assist women with an extensive range of needs. They help women access shelters, emergency medical and mental health care, and detoxification and longer-term substance abuse treatment programs, often accompanying them to the location to ensure that they will arrive safely. The traditional health care system is often difficult for poor and homeless women to navigate. The Advocates help to navigate this system and assist in breaking down the barriers to care. Through Individual Advocacy, women who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other abuse are assisted in seeking safety and other necessary supports.
Since housing is incredibly difficult to obtain in Boston, our Advocates work diligently with women to search for affordable and safe housing and collaborate with other agencies who focus on finding housing and financial supports for those in need. Once housing is secured, guests often need assistance in maintaining their housing. As a result, Advocacy staff often work with guests around budgeting issues, securing rental and utility assistance, and providing short-term financial assistance, when appropriate. In their work with Guests who have legal issues, they help women find legal aid for a variety of problems, including past warrants, immigration issues, domestic abuse, eviction proceedings, bankruptcy, divorce, and child and family issues. For those guests who are arrested or incarcerated, our program will help with bail, or provide prison advocacy, where appropriate. Finally, the Advocates provide emotional support, counseling, and referrals for many of our Guests who suffer from mental illness and emotional trauma.
As part of the Women's Lunch Place commitment to improving the quality of life of our Guests by assisting them with employment and housing searches, and securing medical care and other forms of assistance, the Resource Center has become a core service component. The Resource Center is welcoming and safe and serves as a place for self-advocacy and as an entry point or a follow-up point for Individual Advocacy. While visiting the Resource Center, women can work on resumes, cover letters, send and receive mail and faxes, check their e-mail, look for housing and jobs, coordinate medical care and work on other needs.
The Resource Center staff support the women with these activities by assisting them with any of their requests including, but not limited to: assisting with writing resumes and filling out job applications, applying for financial and health care benefits, coordinating mailing and receiving documents, setting up appointments and inviting other service providers and informative lecturers into the Resource Center to offer more to our guests. Resource Center staff is able to assist at the level that the Guest needs. If staff find that more individual assistance is needed, the Resource Center staff will refer the guest to Individual Advocacy and ensure that there is a smooth transition.