The Support Snowball Effect
YWCA Single Mothers Support Services connect single mothers to resources, support and community. It can be intimidating for anyone to reach out and ask for help. But once the momentum gets going, single mothers in the programs start to understand that they can better their lives and the lives of their children.
Family resource workers work with the mothers in one-to-one meetings. They are advocates, a bridge for women to find resources and support can really help them.
Being a parent is overwhelming even when both parents are involved. From sleep deprivation, financial stress, to constant demands on time and attention, it can be difficult to find balance. These challenges multiply when you’re a single parent. Add to that finding safe housing in this market, secure affordable childcare, or re‑entering the workforce and it’s easy to get discouraged.
There are many inspiring stories that come out of our groups. Two years ago, a single mother with a toddler and another child on the way contacted the YWCA. Her husband had struggled with alcoholism and had become physically and verbally abusive during her second pregnancy. She left to live with family, but the space – though safe – wasn’t ideal for herself and her child. Her family was as supportive as possible, but no one knew what to do next and the baby was due shortly. She was stuck.
She was ready to leave the relationship permanently and be independent but she needed the support to do this. A Single Mother’s Support Services facilitator helped connect her with resources, assisted her with filling out housing applications and eventually found her a place at a YWCA Housing Community.
Shortly after her second child was born she joined a single mother support group, called Baby and Me group, created for single moms who are pregnant or who have babies under a year old. There she was surrounded by other women who ‘got it’. These women understood her situation, listened to and related to her story, supported her through her challenges.
As a single parent, one of the best things for confidence and well-being is to be heard. Many are isolated and don’t have a community or are just misunderstood among family or friends. For this mom, finding the housing and support were just the beginning.
This mom began to set goals for herself. She recognized she needed counseling to work through some of her past issues and was connected to free counseling services. When that went well, she determined she needed some parenting support and needed to learn some skills to parents two busy little kids. One of the moms in her group recommended a community agency that did this and she connected with that program. She joined a support group for friends and family of alcoholics and got a lot of positive support there. That’s the thing about good support– it’s a snowball effect.
Our Single Mothers Support Groups are the heart of our program. They are the way we make a lasting and long term impact on the moms we’re helping.
The YWCA runs 15 Single Moms Support Groups, from UBC to Abbotsford. These groups meet in neighbourhood houses or community spaces and are peer support groups, run by one of our team of facilitators. Peer support group means there is no curriculum to follow, no targets to hit, making this a group for single moms to gather every week to talk about the challenges they face, the things they’re going through and the goals they want to achieve.
Our facilitators will often bring in a guest speaker or workshop to help them build skills- it could be financial literacy, self-compassion, parenting strategies or meal planning. But most often the real learning for these groups comes from one another.