THE short term accommodation for female victims of domestic or intimate partner abuse, was suspended so that renovation works could be done to the building housing them will soon be back on stream, according to the Division of Gender Relations.
The Division said that renovation work at the Women’s Support Centre is in its final stages and that the administrative staff are in the process of acquiring replacement furniture and other items needed to provide the full complement of services to clients.
But the unavailability of the building does not mean that the services offered at the Centre have ceased. The Division is calling on persons needing assistance to note that they could visit its offices on Jeremie Street, Castries, Mondays to Fridays or call the 24 hour hotline by dialing 202.
“Other support service agencies have been informed and continue to be reminded that all established protocols should be followed, and they should continue to refer victims of domestic violence or intimate partner abuse to the Women’s Support Centre through the ‘walk-in service at the Division of Gender Relations or the 202 – 24 hour Hotline,” the Division said.
The August 2013 temporary cessation of the residential services provided by the Centre was to facilitate extensive renovation to the building.
“It is important to note that all other services continue to be provided by the Centre’s staff, who were relocated to the premises of the Division of Gender Relations. Clients continue to use and receive assistance when they call the 202- 24 hour Hotline. They can also benefit from a ‘walk-in’ service, where counsellors are available between 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Although the residential service is an integral part of the Women’s Support Centre’s group of services, its suspension has not significantly diminished the quality of assistance provided by the staff. Over the last 18 months they have worked diligently with clients who require safe or alternate housing to explore viable options in the temporary absence of the residential service,” noted the Division.
When the Centre was fully functional it provided assistance to a total of 158 clients including crisis calls and residential service. Operating from the office of the Division of Gender Relations, for the period January to December 2014, the programme assisted a total of 165 clients -walk-ins and crisis calls. Those clients included 15 males. Of the total number of clients comprising who were assisted there were three cases of suicide ideations of which two were females.
The Women’s Support Centre was established in September 2001 as a temporary place of safety for women victims of domestic violence or intimate partner abuse and their dependent children. The Centre provides a 24 hour service for women who fear for their lives in a secured, safe, comfortable and supportive environment. The services provided include: Crisis intervention through a 24 hour toll-free hotline, which can be accessed by dialing 202. The hotline service includes crisis counselling, information and referrals.
Residential services, which mean short term accommodation in a safe and supportive environment and the provision of basic necessities for clients are provided, along with, private individual and group counselling.
Other services include children’s programmes – Children’s groups, individual counselling and play activities to assist children who witness violence in the home; protection planning, which is assisting clients to develop a safety plan for themselves and their children when they leave the shelter; provision of information on available community resources; Networking with various agencies for the provision of legal and social assistance to clients; practical support assistance to secure employment and alternative housing; follow-up support and counselling to women and children who have left the shelter; non residential services to victims of domestic violence who do not require immediate shelter and community outreach/public education and training on domestic violence .
The Centre, in recent years developed a student’s assistance programme through which the children of clients receive assistance with the acquisition of school supplies, uniforms and in some cases, the payment of school fees. The programme was a necessary addition because the academic performance and school attendance of these children are usually affected by the violence in the home.