Women take to the streets to support women

A new community program was launched this month by Battered Women’s Support Services called “Safety Changes Everything Outreach Program.”

With funding from Central City Foundation, this program is a direct response to the intersections of COVID-19, the opioid crisis, and the increasing levels of violence against women, girls and gender-diverse individuals in our community. Outreach workers will cover the Downtown Eastside, Commercial Drive area, Kingsway and the Granville Strip, operating as a resource to help increase women’s safety.

“During these difficult times it is key that we reach out to those who are at risk and in need of our support”, says Rosa Elena Arteaga, Director of Direct Services and Clinical Practice at BWSS.

This program extends the work of BWSS, which has been providing counselling and healing spaces for those who have experienced abuse since 1979. To help women build strength and resiliency, they also work on institutional and systemic advocacy, legal advocacy, law reform and youth engagement.

With both trained support workers and volunteers, the Safety Changes Everything outreach team will be visible in the community, working to develop relationships with women in order to increase safety, break isolation and offer connection to violence prevention and gender-based violence specific services. The outreach team will provide immediate crisis response to instances of violence against women to provide emotional support, connect them to resources, offer advocacy, accompaniment to police, hospital or medical services.

“Central City Foundation is grateful and honoured to be part of this incredibly needed community-led initiative in response to the alarming increase in gender-based and sexualized violence against women across our inner-city community”, says Jennifer Johnstone, President and CEO of Central City Foundation. “Our funding of this program is illustrative of our commitment to support community-focused and community-led solutions that will foster a resilient, caring and inclusive community where it is possible for all people to overcome injustice, participate and thrive.”

When you give to Central City Foundation, you are supporting community-led initiatives like these that help people in the inner city improve their lives.