As many as 10,000 men have used the Men’s Centre in Nanaimo in any given month since it opened in 2001.
Many of them say they might not be alive today if it wasn’t there for them.
“I was in a downward spiral when I first came to the Men’s resource centre ten years ago,” said Trevor Heshka.
“I don’t know where I’d be without this place. They’ve helped me so much,” said Darrell Scott.
Theo Boere started the centre in 2001 offering free counselling to men for any number of reasons, similar to a women’s resource centre.
“Counselling, suicide prevention, domestic violence prevention, helping keep dads connected with their kids,” he said.
It’s the only centre of its kind west of Winnipeg and Boere says it operates on a shoestring budget of roughly $7,000 a month to pay counsellors, an office manager and himself when there’s any money left.
Roughly 60 per of the centre’s clients are from the mid-Island area while 40 per cent come from across the province.
They are served either in person, over the phone or online.
Boere says he is constantly applying for new funding but is calling on the provincial government to provide a sustainable level of consistent funding or the future of the Men’s Centre is in jeopardy.
“We gave a proposal to Mr. Farnworth and basically got a reply back saying there were lots of resources for men in the province already, which is really,to be quite frank, ridiculous,” said Boere.
“The grant they applied for, they were not successful,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. ”
There was a limited amount of funding available. I think there were over 150 applications for those funds.”
But Boere is worried that the province now seems to be funding women’s centre’s to offer men’s programs, something he says fundamentally can’t work.
And men at the centre are worried about others like them who may have no place to go.
“I did not have a clue what to do, no idea how to navigate the system or what to do with myself emotionally, anything, no real support. Through here I found all of that,” said Ron Grychuck.
“And if we don?t have centres like this to take care of our mental health then how can we expect the next generation to look after their mental health because we’re not just men, we’re people too,” said Matthew Cowie.