Wynn Hartfelder (from left) and Brooke McLardy

Wynn Hartfelder (from left) and Brooke McLardy

Safe haven opened for women

Women looking for guidance but not sure where to turn will have a place to call their own.

Women looking for guidance but not sure where to turn will have a place to call their own.

A women-only space opened at Independent Living Vernon recently, and it will run every Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“It’s a safe place for women to come in and talk about community resources,” said Annette Sharkey, with the Social Planning Council.

Among the reasons individuals may go into the  office are poverty, tenancy issues and the justice system.

“If you don’t know where to get help, there will be someone there who knows what’s available in the community,” said Sharkey.

Staff will be on hand from the John Howard Society and Transition House.

The space will provide computers, the Internet, office equipment and refreshments.

The organizations decided to establish a women-only space after the Vernon Women’s Centre closed its doors earlier this year for financial reasons.

It will be open to all women, but Sharkey admits some of them are experiencing specific challenges.

“A majority may have experienced some violence in their past so having their own space provides a sense of safety and comfort,” she said.

Sharkey has praise for Independent Living, Transition House and the John Howard Society supporting the initiative.

“Each agency is providing an in-kind service or staff,” she said.

“They are stretching their own program dollars to make this work.”

Other community agencies are being sought to assist with programs and resources and there is the possibility the service could eventually expand beyond Fridays.

“They will start with one day a week and see how it goes,” said Sharkey.

Independent Living Vernon is located in room 107 of the People Place, 3402 27th Ave.