During a time where people are being ordered to stay inside, being at home may not be an ideal situation for some.
Domestic violence is still an ongoing issue, so the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society (COEFS) and the Kelowna Women’s Shelter have partnered to address the situation.
Safe Spaces: COVID-19 Response and Support, is a two-pronged campaign— to raise awareness about domestic abuse and to raise funds for COEFS and the women’s shelter as resources dry up.
Kelowna Women’s Shelter resource development coordinator Ester Pike said that due to the pandemic, they’ve had to close the shelter’s thrift store where a significant amount of their operational funds come from.
“With COVID-19 happening, it’s also affected how we’re able to not only offer the services that we do but also the public’s understanding of whether or not we’re still available and what those services look like and how people can still access them,” Pike added.
Mandy Glinsbockel, community engagement coordinator at COEFS, said they’ve also transitioned all their services to online and over the phone.
“We’re also doing a lot of outreach to current and past clients and doing everything we can to ensure everyone is safe and that also includes being active on our social media channels right now and posting resources,” she said.
As a community, Glinsbockel said we can keep each other safe by regularly checking in with each other through texts and phone calls, as well as sharing resources with those who we know may be at risk or who may be in an unsafe situation.
“What we want the public to know is domestic violence and abuse is already a reality for so many in our community and for some, home was never a safe place, to begin with. But with COVID-19, now there’s an added layer of risk and tension due to everything from financial struggles or the extra pressure of more people being at home and an increase in conflict,” Pike said.
“That community support, being that safe space for somebody and making sure that everybody is aware that help is always available and that help will always be matched to what the individual needs, that’s what we want people to know.”
If you need help, please call the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society at 250-763-4613 or the Women’s Shelter at 250-763-1040.