Services still available despite centre’s closure

Marginalized women still have doors to walk through for help, even though one is shut tight.

Several agencies are reminding the public that they continue to provide services despite the Vernon Women’s Centre closing because of budget issues.

“Program-wise, there isn’t a gap,” said Kelly Fehr, Gateway Shelter manager.

Besides Gateway, services are also available at Vernon Women’s Transition House, the Primary Health Clinic, Independent Living, the First Nations Friendship Centre, United Way and the Cammy Lafleur Street Clinic.

There was concern from some residents that Transition House and the homeless shelter were closing when it was announced the Vernon Women’s Centre was ceasing operations.

“It’s a common misconception,” said Debby Hamilton, Vernon Transition House executive director. “People think women’s centre and women’s transition house — what’s the difference?”

The Vernon Women’s Centre had been in operation for 30 years.

“It’s a terrible blow to the community not to have a women’s centre. They will be missed,” said Hamilton.

The existing agencies have stepped up efforts to meet the needs of women who are poor, marginalized or sex workers.

The primary focus will be on food, clothing, referrals and crisis support.

“Gateway is operating and it’s taken on additional services such as laundry and showers,” said Fehr.

The agencies are also working together to create a women-only space to address some of the needs the Women’s Centre met.

“We’ve heard from women that this is the one that’s not in place in the community,” said Hamilton.

For more information about community programs, call Transition House at 250-542-1122 or the Gateway Shelter at 250-260-2786.