Shelter for victims of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic
Supporting our communities through the crisis
Everyone deserves to be safe, and that has never been more true than today. Safety doesn’t just mean guarding against the pandemic but also helping to protect those who are especially vulnerable at this time – including people experiencing domestic violence.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Hope Haven runs a shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence. It is the only such shelter in Labrador West – a community of around 10,000 people living in the two towns of Labrador City and Wabush, near the operations of the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC), our iron ore pellets and concentrate business.
“IOC has been a strong community partner for many years,” says Nicole Young, Hope Haven’s executive director. “As a Transition House for women and children fleeing violence and abuse, it is so important for us to build community relationships. The partnership we have built with IOC is one of trust, support and comfort that when in difficult and challenging times you can pick up the phone and know that your partners will do what they can.”
When the pandemic arrived on Canadian shores, Hope Haven realised that while they had space in their shelter, they would only be able to accommodate women and children unaffected by COVID-19. What then, would happen to abused women infected by the virus who needed to self-isolate?
So, in early March, IOC made alternative housing available to Hope Haven, and the women of Labrador City and Wabush. We are also ensuring that the staff of Hope Haven are properly fitted with respiratory protection and other personal protective equipment, so both they and the women they serve are protected from the coronavirus.
At Rio Tinto, we have long been working to end family and domestic violence, with industry-leading programmes in Australia and North America: in 2018, we were officially recognised by White Ribbon Australia for taking active steps in the workplace to stop violence against women.