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Tuesday , 29 September 2020

Lac La Biche women’s shelter experiencing an increase in calls

With RCMP seeing a 50 per cent increase in domestic violence investigations this year compared to 2019, Hope Haven Women’s Shelter has also noticed an increase in calls for 2020.

The police’s domestic violence investigations are believed to be exacerbated by issues linked to COVID-19, but the reason for the rise in calls for Hope Haven is unknown as the increase began prior to COVID-19.

“Strangely we have had an increase over the last year and a half, we have had a huge increase in calls so it’s really hard to compare with COVID-19,” said Melissa Green, the Executive Director for Hope Haven.

Over the past month, Hope Haven has seen even more of an increase in calls for more urgent situations.

“The past couple of weeks we have had more callers and more families fleeing immediate abuse that we are starting to see that need the space right now,” said Green.

During the pandemic, Hope Haven was still up and running, however, they did shut down some of the rooms to limit interaction as much as possible.

Now, all of the rooms are open and the shelter is at full capacity with 21 women in care.

“I want people to know we are here and operating, and we are doing it as safely as possible. I don’t want people to be hindered from phoning us because they are worried about congregate living and think that’s a bigger risk,” said Green.

“We have more cleaners, extra sanitizing happening, and if for some reason people have to share a washroom we are sanitizing between people being in there. We are just taking those added precautions to make sure that everyone is safe.”

Hope Haven Women’s Shelter doesn’t just offer housing, but provides support in the form of counselling, educational groups, referrals and help when dealing with other agencies.

“If we refer someone to addictions, we will go with the client to their appointments to be that extra supportive body, and  if they need help in court or anything like that we will also go with them,” said Green.

“We are here to provide that support, you don’t have to be an inhouse client to get support. We have outreach staff, we have our crisis line that’s open 24/7, you don’t have to want to reside here to call in.”

The shelter also provides support for men as well, and also for anyone that isn’t ready to leave their current situation but is wanting to discuss possible options for when they do choose to leave.

“We do support men and women, we only have women in the shelter, but our crisis line is open to men to provide support,” said Green.

“We are also open to anyone who just wants to talk and maybe make a plan if they’re not ready to leave yet but they may want to make a plan for that in the future.”

For anyone wanting to access Hope Haven’s 24-hour crisis line, call 780-623-3100. 

About Bianca Mazziotti

Bianca Mazziotti is a York University graduate with a Professional Writing degree, who found a passion in reporting. She was fortunate enough to get a reporting job in the beautiful hamlet of Lac La Biche, and she has loved learning about the town and the people in it.