Welcome to EFry’s blog. Here, those who work with or support EFry will offer their views on topics that touch the work we do: providing gender-responsive programs, services and advocacy to reduce women and girls’ involvement with the justice system.
This is a very special week for EFry. Not only is it nationally and locally decreed as EFry Week in recognition of the need and value of supporting marginalized women, it is also EFry’s 75th anniversary. In 1939, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver was born through the efforts of a small group of volunteers who were shocked by the unequal and disadvantaged treatment of women in prison. They were determined to do something about it and indeed they did. Naming their group in honour of the 18th century prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, these initial champions improved the conditions of confinement for women.
Seventy-five years later, EFry has more than 400 dedicated volunteers and 100 staff. As with our founders, where EFry sees a void in supporting criminalized women and those who depend on them, we step forward to facilitate change. Over the years, EFry has successfully lobbied for new regulations such as ensuring incarcerated girls have the right to single sex detention and that women have access to gender-sensitive programs to help prepare them for life in the community. We have developed pilot programs that became the national standard, such as a community work service initiative that enables those convicted of certain crimes to make restitution instead of serving prison time. We introduced shelters and transitional housing that welcome women with children and created a social enterprise that provides training and jobs to women after incarceration. Daily, we offer women and children food, a place to have a shower and a respectful, caring ear. Because just as broad change is vital, small supports can sometimes be all it takes to change a life.
The scope of EFry’s work has grown a lot in seven-and-a-half decades. So much that we created the accompanying infographic to help explain not only what we do, but why and how we do it. This blog, like our work, will feature our thoughts on those things that impact the five ways we help women and girls reduce their justice system involvement: reducing risk factors; supporting incarcerated women and girls; aiding successful prison to community transitions; working to break the legacy of crime, and removing systemic barriers that marginalize women.
I hope you will make EFry’s blog a regular part of your reading list and we look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments section below. If you are interested in becoming involved with EFry, we would love to have you join us as a donor, volunteer or supporter. By working together, we will continue to help women, teen girls and children overcome life’s challenges and build brighter futures.
Executive Director, EFry