Services for vulnerable women are gearing up, preparing for an influx of clients as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“The research shows that at a time of crisis, gender-based violence does increase, both inside the home and outside of the home,” said Susan Howard, development director at Victoria Women’s Transition House Society.

As health officials and elected leaders encourage everyone to stay home during the pandemic to decrease the spread of the virus, the Victoria Women’s Transition House Society expects more women will be requiring their services.

“The fact that we are sheltering in place and that women who may be are experiencing abuse can’t get out of their home and they have very little privacy, we anticipate that we’re going to have a lot of calls and a lot of clients,” Howard noted, adding that they’ve already seen an increase in calls seeking information about services available. It’s a bit like the “calm before the storm,” she said.

To prepare for this increase, Howard said the organization is looking to utilize online platforms, starting by offering counselling services via video call.

“We look forward to adding our digital platform so that we can help support women not just over the phone but through face to face on video or through one of the more secure digital platforms,” she said. “That is so important, that women know that they can reach out and they can get the support they need.”

The Victoria Women in Need (WIN) Community Cooperative is taking a similar route, after they had to close their resale shops because of the pandemic.

“It was a very hard decision because our five shops are really more than 90 per cent of the revenue that support our five programs for women in the community,” said Mabel Marin, marketing and communications coordinator for WIN. “So closing the stores has been an extremely difficult decision for us and we know that it [has] an impact.”

Instead of closing down their stores completely, WIN has created an online shop with their inventory.

“People go online and they can buy whatever they want and we are scheduling different pick up times at our WIN Cook [location],” said Marin.

This will allow WIN to continue offering their programs, including their Crisis & Referral Program, Gift Certificate Program, New Start Program, Self Sufficiency Program and Transformations.

The Victoria Women’s Transition House 24 hour crisis and information line is 250-385-6611.

Anyone that would like to support Victoria Women’s Transition House is invited to give online, where you can give to the Transition House Area of Greatest Need, Grocery Gift Cards Campaign or Healing Through the Arts programs to support vulnerable women and children fleeing intimate partner violence and abuse.

 

Jasmine Bala