EFry was founded in 1939 by a small group of volunteers dedicated to transforming conditions for women and girls in custody. Since then, EFry has grown to an organization of 180 staff and more than 500 volunteers. We’ve succeeded in establishing female prisoners’ rights to single gender detention facilities, winning acceptance for in-prison schooling, founding Vancouver’s methadone program and developing community alternatives to prison which have been adopted nationwide.
Today, EFry provides support across the spectrum of justice system involvement – from at risk through incarceration to the transition back to independent living. We have expanded our focus to include the children of our clients at every stage of this risk continuum. In particular, supporting the children of prisoners is a key priority for EFry. Left unsupported, more than 50 percent of these children will follow in their parents’ footsteps and become prisoners themselves. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
EFry has built our history on identifying the needs of the marginalized and creating solutions to fill the voids. We opened Canada’s first shelter for women and their children, and the first non-governmental group home for youth. We are a founding member of the Canadian Association of Residential Options for Women (CAROW), through which we share our gender expertise to support improved access for women transitioning from prison to residential facilities near their homes, families and communities.
To assist marginalized women in gaining long-term employment, EFry developed the Bridges Program, a training initiative that has been adopted as a Government of Canada employment strategy. We also operate a successful social enterprise, Asphalt Gals, which provides women leaving prison with training and employment in roofing site clean-up. EFry Vancouver was the first Elizabeth Fry Society in Canada. Today, more than 25 agencies serve across the country and form the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.