Responsive and Resilient Vancouver Non-Profit Celebrates 40 Years of Service

Responsive and Resilient Vancouver Non-Profit Celebrates 40 Years of Service

As featured in Global Heroes.

Have you ever been faced with an impossible choice?

Everyone deserves the opportunity to make free, healthy, and positive choices—but the people WISH Drop-In Centre Society exists to serve are often denied that fundamental right.

Based in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, on the unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, WISH’s connection to the land is central to the work they do and their efforts to decolonize that work.

WISH is the largest sex worker support organization in Canada, and has been a refuge and an essential point of contact for street-based sex workers since 1984, working to improve their health, safety, and well-being through rights, not rescue.

It’s About Choice

WISH puts this mission into action through direct service programs, including their nightly drop-in, first-of-its-kind emergency shelter, and Mobile Access Project (MAP) Van.

Participants also have access to capacity-building programs, including Indigenous Health & Safety, InReach one-to-one support, Learning Centre, Music Therapy, and Supportive Employment.

wish drop-in centre society
Photo © Courtesy of WISH

“Thank you for caring about me when I couldn’t do it for myself. Amazing people.” — WISH participant

Each day and night, approximately 350 women and gender-diverse folks depend on WISH to meet their most essential needs, like a warm meal or a hot shower, and to access wrap-around supports that help create lasting change. Staff have become participants’ primary resources for help navigating through increasingly complicated matters and receive hundreds of requests for support every week.

Trust, Care & Respect

Many of those who walk through the doors at WISH have experienced targeted, gender-based, and sexualized violence and are often dehumanized because of the work they do. They have faced significant discrimination due to systemic inequities and continue to be impacted by the criminalized nature of Canada’s laws surrounding sex work.

WISH is a non-judgmental place of compassion and trust where all women are valued. This trust, care, and respect is the foundation needed for participants to build relationships with staff and peers and to increase connections to the community.

“We just want to live our lives. We just want to raise our children, we just want to be happy, healthy, productive people.” — WISH participant

© Courtesy of WISH

Human rights groups around the world continue to call for the decriminalization of all aspects of adult consensual sex work. Until all sex workers have access to the rights they deserve, WISH will be there, actively pushing back against the forces of sexism, racism, sex work stigma, and the impacts of colonization.

For street-based sex workers who need support, but who have experienced negative interactions with authorities, WISH is a safe haven.

Your Help is Needed

Donors who give to WISH are standing in solidarity with sex workers. They know sex work is work, and that sex worker rights are human rights—and these donors make WISH happen!

“What matters most to me is that you continue to reach and support sex workers where they are and follow their lead in advocating for them and offering them care.” — WISH Donor

WISH continues to be a leader in the sector, thanks to an incredibly committed team of staff, volunteers, and donors dedicated to meeting the dire needs of the community.

It has taken tremendous effort to reach this milestone. For the last 40 years, it’s been extremely challenging
to keep up with the immense demand for services as conditions in the community continue to worsen. With your help, WISH can provide essential support for as long as needed.

Please give generously today to support this important work. Learn more at wish-vancouver.net.