The 100 Mile House and District Women’s Centre Society closed its doors on March 31, but support services are still available for women and children in 100 Mile House and surrounding areas.
“The services are still available, it’s just simply that the program went from running under the Women’s Centre to Canadian Mental Health,” said Hayley Emmerson, who is the Safe House coordinator for the South Cariboo branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA-SCB).
Susann Collins has been the Executive Director of the CMHA-SCB for five years. She says CMHA-SCB was asked to take over management of the Women’s Centre three years ago as a temporary measure. Since that time, organizers had to choose to either amalgamate the two societies or run them separately.
“We value the services,” said Collins. “We want to keep them in the community.”
Approaching year three, they were faced with a third option: to dissolve the Women’s Centre Society completely.
The Women’s Centre closed in March, at which point the Safe House program was awarded to the CMHA-SCB.
Collins said the program didn’t miss a beat and continued to function with the same staff. Those staff members are now employed by the CMHA-SCB, which Safe House coordinators Emmerson and Roxanne Salinas say made the transition rather seamless.
“It’s not a lot of difference really,” said Salinas. Since the Women’s Centre closed, Kalika Moody and Salinas agree that without the previous drop-in office, there has been greater privacy for clients. Organizers are still operating from the same location, but prefer not to reveal the location for the privacy and safety of their clients.
The CMHA-SCB offers a variety of services to individuals from Lac la Hache to Clinton. The two programs brought over from the Women’s Centre Society are the Safe House program (providing safe housing for women and their children fleeing abuse) and the Stopping the Violence counselling program (for women who are experiencing or have experienced violence, sexual assault, or childhood abuse). Both programs are offered for free.
The Safe House can help women establish a safety plan, but will also provide moral support, transportation, and more services as necessary. In their 2017-2018 fiscal year, the Safe House serviced 40 clients and 65 referrals.
To access their services, call VictimLink at 1-800-563-0808 and ask for the Safe House program in 100 Mile House. VictimLink BC is an anonymous, toll-free service that provides information and support for all victims of crime.
Moody is the counsellor for the Stopping The Violence counselling program (STV). Moody’s program is different from others in that it takes a focused feminist approach to address societal power imbalances that lead women to experience violence and abuse. The public can access STV Monday to Friday by calling 1-778-482-1788.
Moody says that the STV and Safe House programs often work hand in hand and coordinators refer clients and share resources. Individuals can self refer, but other organizations and agencies in the community can also provide referrals.
“Each woman’s situation is unique to her and we recognize that,” said Moody. “Violence and abuse make its way into all women’s lives regardless of finances or religion, culture or race. It has no barriers.”
Moody says that counselling services can help women feel strong again and make the life choices they want to.
Salinas adds that their services are also available for those who may be seeking support or advice to take their next steps.
Emmerson wants women in the area to know that they don’t just address physical violence, either, but all forms of abuse. Support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and more than anything, Emmerson wants women in the community to know, “We’re here.”