The Casa Ioana Association (Casa Ioana) is celebrating 20 years of lifesaving and life changing work on Friday 17 July 2015 at the Athenee Palace Hilton Hotel, between 19:00 and 23:30 hours. HE Paul Brummel, the British Ambassador to Romania is among the 50 guests who include staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and board members, in addition to Casa Ioana’s friends, supporters and donors.
Established in July 1995, Casa Ioana initially established a non-governmental organisation (NGO) resource centre by refurbishing an apartment block situated in the Ferentari area of Bucharest using both local and international volunteers. The resource centre housed a school for children with special needs, a computer-training centre for adults with disability, a halfway house for post-institutionalised young adults and a socio-medical centre for the 300 Roma families living in the area.

In 1997, Casa Ioana opened the first emergency night shelter for homeless people in Romania, following a request by the then General Mayor, Virel Liz. Initially accommodating 20 older homeless men on any one night, it soon increased its capacity to 50 homeless people a day. The shelter has hosted many VIP visits including, HRH The Prince of Wales, King Mihai and Queen Ana of Romania, Andrew Vorkink (vice-president of the World Bank), Le Abbot Pierre of France, Dr Xavier Emmanuelli, founder of Samu-social, Maia Morgenstern (Romanian film and stage actress) and many foreign ambassadors to Romania.

Casa Ioana opened another larger shelter in another part of Bucharest in 2000 and extended its services to include homeless families. It was at this time that Casa Ioana began to focus on women and children experiencing domestic violence and family homelessness. Recently, the association opened another shelter in Bucharest for women and children experiencing domestic violence. Both shelters accommodate 13 families and 6 single women, and 7 families and 2 single women respectively.

Today, Casa Ioana is Bucharest’s leading independent provider of temporary accommodation and professional psychosocial support services. it provides safe temporary accommodation and professional psychosocial services to meet the particular needs of families and individuals over an extended period. They work with a broad network of both public-sector agencies and other service providers to help families and single women to resolve all their problems and acquire the necessary skills and assistance they need to regain family stability and affordable housing. Casa Ioana addresses the multiple underlying issues of domestic violence and family homelessness, rather than simply focusing on providing short-term emergency shelter.
Ian Tilling, founder and president of Casa Ioana said, ”Casa Ioana is effective because we are dedicated to improving our services and work hard to learn about the people we work with, for example their backgrounds, needs and ambitions. We have a hugely varied group of people to support and are committed to providing the holistic and personalised support they need to move on with their lives.”

Casa Ioana’s robust Financial Literacy Programme, not simply to teach personal and family budgeting skills, but to enable some beneficiaries to return to school, whilst training others in developing the soft-skills employers are looking for in the people they want to hire.

Casa Ioana is successful; each year more than 80% of Casa Ioana’s beneficiaries make a positive move on with their lives through obtaining decent jobs and moving into affordable accommodation. Although beneficiaries can stay for generally a year, the majority are ready to move on after 6 – 8 months.
Andreea Gheorghe, Casa Ioana’s general manager said, “We have built a professional staff team that is committed to helping our beneficiaries reach their goals. Working in Casa Ioana is a very positive experience and the staff team has an important role in developing strategy. We feel respected for what we do and each of us is motivated by the results we achieve with our beneficiaries.”
The 20th anniversary party is sponsored by Casa Ioana’s supporters and is intended to thank Casa Ioana’s stakeholders, many of who have sustained Casa Ioana since the beginning.

Contact: Nicoleta Dinu – Public relations and communications
Telephone: +40 21 3326 390
Mobile: +40 760 249 392
Email: nicoleta.dinu@casaioana.org
URL: www.casaioana.org

The Casa Ioana Association (Casa Ioana) was established in 1995 and supports families and single women experiencing domestic violence and family homelessness. Casa Ioana opens the door to safe temporary housing and a wide range of professional psychosocial support services. Besides managing two residential centres in Bucharest, Casa Ioana provides comprehensive support that helps its beneficiaries’ transition into independent stable accommodation, work and the community around them, whilst equipping them with the skills to manage future crises. Central to this process is the belief that beneficiaries should be empowered to make their own choices whilst supporting their independence. Casa Ioana supports 20 families and nine single women at any one time.

Domestic violence is the immediate cause of homelessness for many families and single women. Survivors of domestic violence are often isolated from support networks and financial resources by their abusers, which puts them at risk of becoming homeless. As a result, they may lack steady income and a history of employment and often suffer from anxiety, panic disorder, major depression and substance abuse. When women find themselves in an abusive relationship, they may not always have clear-cut choices.

Studies also suggest that many women experiencing homelessness are survivors of domestic violence, even if it was not the primary cause of their homelessness. Experts agree that there is a strong correlation between domestic violence and homelessness. Women often flee suddenly without a plan and find themselves in physical and economic trouble and without housing stability. When a woman decides to leave an abusive relationship, she often has nowhere to go. This is particularly true of women with few resources. Lack of affordable housing and long waiting lists for assisted housing mean that many women and their children are forced to choose between abuse at home and life on the streets. Many women are cut off from their friends or family or are afraid to seek shelter with them because the abusive partner can track them down more easily.