“Building Bridges” for abused women in the City of Kawartha Lakes

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Pictured left to right: Debbie (Women's Resources), Suzie (Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre), Debbie (CKL Family Health Team), Kelly (Kawartha Haliburton Victim Services), Kellie (Kawartha Halliburton Children's Aid Society), Front: Cassandra (Bridges of Kawartha Lakes Coordinator)

KAWARTHA LAKES – 98 abused women in the City of Kawartha Lakes have crossed a bridge to safety thanks to the new Bridges of Kawartha Lakes program. “Bridges is a hub for women that have experienced abuse or violence, essentially it is a one stop shop so women can come in and access multiple services out of one location.” Cassandra Jordan, Bridges of Kawartha Lakes Coordinator told Kawarhta 411. “They can meet with as many as they would like. We have on-site and off-site partners.”

On-site partners include the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, Womens Resources, Victims  Services, Canadian Mental Health Association, Childrens Aid and the City of Kawartha Lakes Family Health Team. “Basically we try to reduce barriers for women by facilitating the process of connection. So they come in and they only have to share their story once and we help them connect to the other services with their consent.”

Sharing their story only once is an integral part of the service provided by Bridges. “It’s very important because before the hub existed women would have to travel all across town sometimes out of town because some of the partners are from the Peterborough area,” Jordan explained. “They would have to travel with their own money, their own gas to go to each separate organization or agency and have to share their story every single place they went. Its important for them to only have to share their story once because often their story is very hard to share and they have difficulty knowing to trust exactly and a lot of them feel very vulnerable with their information as well because it is so personal and hard to share.”

Off-site partners include Fourcast Addictions Treatment Centre, Ontario Works, Housing Help, Kawartha Lakes OPP, Kawartha Lakes Police Service, a family lawyer and the Victim Witness Assistance Program.

The program just celebrated it’s first year in Kawartha Lakes. Durham Region has had a similar program for ten years and Peterborough for three years. On-site services are provided every Monday at Women’s Resources in Lindsay. If Monday doesn’t work Jordan can do an assessment over the phone and arrange for some of the community agencies to meet on another day. They also have translation services avaialble for women who many have language barriers.

A new satellite location has recently opened in Kinmount to serve the more remote communities. “On Thursdays from 11am until 1pm, women can access the library and at the library they will be provided a cell phone to call me.” Jordan remarked. “Sometimes women don’t have access to the phone or dont have a safe place to phone, so if they can get to the library they can call me and I can support them over the phone and help them connect to services.” Two more library locations will be coming online in the New Year.

Bridges of Kawartha Lakes is funded by the Trillium Foundation Seed Grant program and the Ministry of Community and Social Services, Rural Realities.

If you the victim of domestic violence go to https://womensresources.ca/wp-content/uploads/Bridges-flyer_FINAL_PRESS-Nov-21st-2016.pdf for more information.

If you are in crisis, please contact the woman abuse 24 hour Crisis Support Line at 1-800-565-5350