An Update Regarding Covid-19 from VWTH
We hope you are all well and healthy. These are truly difficult times and for those who are most vulnerable, including women and their children impacted by intimate partner violence and abuse, the days are extremely challenging.

At Victoria Women's Transition House, we continue our commitment to supporting our clients. We are operating our shelter supports and answering our crisis line while making various program adjustments to safely assist our clients and support our staff.

The VWTH Emergency Shelter and 24-Hour Crisis and Information Line are extremely busy and we anticipate a further increase in the volume of requests for emergency services for women and their children throughout the pandemic. As a result, we are looking to expand our crisis services in order to support our clients during this difficult period.

Residents at the VWTH 22-bed Third Stage Housing complex for older women continues to be supported by staff. Last week a volunteer delivered boxes of food to the women from the Food Share Network for those who were short on groceries; and strict sanitization procedures have been enhanced throughout the complex.

The Children Who Witness Abuse/PEACE program , Stopping the Violence women’s counselling and Older Women’s outreach programs have all continued, with VWTH counselling staff reaching out to support clients by phone. Group programs have been put on hold, although we are researching options to continue group counselling in a secure, digital format.

The Family Legal Advocacy Program and Spousal Assault Victim Support programs continue with staff consulting with clients via phone. As well, the Regional Domestic Violence Unit , the team that conducts investigations, formal risk assessments, safety plans and victim support for high-risk domestic violence cases also continues to work via telephone to support clients.

VWTH's Community Education Coordinator is creating educational content, including a webinar on Elder Abuse, for digital delivery to help maintain community awareness of the supports available in our community for victims and survivors. 
 
And finally, VWTH staff continue to support clients through the VWTH Homeless Prevention Program, helping clients with their financial needs. We expect a further increase in the number of clients and financial challenges.

Like many of us throughout the community, VWTH clients are facing new financial difficulties as well anxiety over the future. Pandemic measures require people to practice social and physical distancing and many must confine themselves within their homes. This situation is particularly alarming for women who are being abused. These women may find themselves trapped with their abuser and even more isolated from friends and family. As the days and weeks go on, tensions are likely to escalate, exasperated by stress, financial pressures and uncertainty.

Victoria Women’s Transition House recognizes these challenges for our clients and we are here for them, ready to respond and preparing for the weeks and months ahead.

On behalf of Victoria Women’s Transition House, thank you. We are appreciative of our caring and dedicated community of supporters during this time. Due to the increased needs of our clients, we are grateful for any support that you can provide.

Stay well. 

A reminder that our 24-Hour Crisis and Information Line remains open - 250-385-6611.
DONATIONS
Our clients are in URGENT NEED of GROCERY AND PHARMACY GIFT CARDS to support them during the COVID-19 Crisis.

Grocery gift cards can be MAILED to our Community Office, #100 - 3060 Cedar Hill Rd, Victoria BC, V8T 3J5. Or you can email us at info@vwth.bc.ca to arrange a safe drop off or pick-up. Thank you! 
Victoria Women’s Transition House is also looking for 4-5 computer laptops/notebooks in good working order to help us support our clients so that they can stay connected during self-isolation. These laptops should be no more than 5-6 years old and include a Windows operating system with wifi capabilities. An accompanying power cord and mouse is appreciated. Please ensure that all your personal files are removed from the device. Our technician will digitally “clean” the laptop, making it ready for use. If you have a laptop/notebook to donate, please contact info@vwth.bc.ca to arrange a safe drop off or pick up. Thank you! 
Practicing Self-Care During Times of Uncertainty
During these difficult and uncertain times, it's important to support our mental health and take extra time for self-care. Everyone has different tools that work for them, but here are some suggestions:

  • Stay Connected: Social distancing means we can still stay connected to our loved ones. Thanks to technology, there are many ways to combat isolation and continue socializing, such as talking on the phone or other digital platforms, joining a free online workout or yoga session, starting an online movie club, etc.

  • Limit Your News Intake: The Mental Health Commission of Canada has suggested that, "in times of high anxiety and stress, it’s more important than ever to safeguard your mental wellness. That includes stemming the tide of non-essential information and paring down your news consumption." Stay informed - just not 24/7.

  • Spend Time in Nature: There are many positive health benefits of spending time in nature. As long as you are able to stay at least two meters apart from others and that the public park and trail remains open, going for walks is a great way to calm the nervous system and get some exercise.

  • Develop Self-Compassion: These are unprecedented times, and it's helpful to remember that our feelings and anxieties are normal reactions to abnormal events. It's important to treat ourselves and others with greater kindness and care, and to reach out for help when we need it.
Ways to Stay Active During Covid-19
Did you know that Victoria Women's Transition House provides an exercise program for our older women? One of our guest facilitators from Sole Sisters Victoria shares some tips on how to stay active while respecting social/physical distancing:

"Research shows that as little as 20 minutes of activity a day can fuel our emotional and mental well-being. We know that we are much more than our physical existence - we need to care for our selves on many levels.
Here are some simple ways to increase happiness and decrease feelings of sadness or isolation:

* get out and walk around the block for a minimum of 20 minutes - just keep your physical distance from others
* turn on some upbeat music and walk on the spot, stretch carefully listening to your body, and/or find a fitness show to follow
* STAY CONNECTED... phone/text/email/Skype a friend and have a visit... take it one step further - you can have a virtual walk with your friend!
 
Please know that community includes you, reach out and keep moving... and please remember, we are STRONGER Together!"
National Volunteer Week, April 19-25
Our Volunteer Coordinator, Odette, has a lovely message for VWTH volunteers during National Volunteer Week :

I feel grateful to have this opportunity to reach out to the extraordinary VWTH Volunteers! Your contributions of time over the course of the year deserve a huge ‘Hurrah' - and I want to acknowledge and thank you for your efforts in advance of National Volunteer Week, April 19-25. 

Today, we thank each of you who volunteer at the Shelter, on the 24-Hour Crisis and Information Line, during STRIDE walks for older women, at Soup Sisters soup-making sessions, organizing the print library for the new Family Law Advocate, at expressive art programs, while child-minding, in the preparation and distribution of Christmas Hampers, running errands and helping at the Shelter and the many outreach and fundraising events such as Cherish: A Glamorous Evening of Fashion and Philanthropy … OH … I could fill this newsletter … Thank YOU.
 
Also, I would like to acknowledge the on-going contributions of many service clubs and schools: including Soup Sisters, the Soroptomist Club for their many years of service, Saanich Baptist Church - Serve the City, Delta Hotels volunteer event, and the wonderful students from Claremont, St. Margaret’s, St. Michael’s, and Christ Church Cathedral schools for the soup, muffins, and treats you have prepared for our Shelter residents and older women at our Third Stage Housing Program.

In addition to our current, dedicated group of volunteers, we have a keen group of new volunteers who are waiting for the next volunteer training. While our volunteer program is currently on hold, we will be reassessing the program and will be considering alternate ways for volunteers to support our organization and our clients in a safe and healthy manner. So please stay tuned! 

For those seeking more information, please contact me, Odette – Volunteer Program Coordinator at Odettel@vwth.bc.ca .
Meet VWTH's HR Manager!
VWTH's HR Manager, Sharde Long, is a finalist for CPHR's (Chartered Professionals in Human Resources) 2020 Rising Star Award! Congratulations Sharde.

Sharde Long found herself off to a quick start in her HR career. While she was still a student in Camosun College’s HR program, Sharde started working for Victoria Women’s Transition House, snapping into action to provide recruitment and training support as well as offering valuable internal educational programming while making a strong impression externally in Victoria’s HR community.
 
Sharde has made a measurable impact on reducing staff turnover with her innovative Respectful Workplaces training program. After thorough research, presentation, and approval, Sharde leveraged her training skills to develop a mandatory curriculum for all VWTH employees. The program established common understanding of a respectful workplace and confirmed the organization’s commitment to maintaining a workplace of respect and safety.
 
In addition to her work with VWTH, Sharde is generous with her time in the community. She leads the Victoria Roundtable for CPHR and is the Vice President on Leadership Victoria’s Board of Directors. As a young HR professional, Sharde has risen to the challenge at every step, making a difference for the employees that in turn make a difference for marginalized women in Victoria.
Community Support
A special thank you to Mrs. H. for the donation of a laptop computer for our Third Stage Housing complex for older women and to an anonymous donor for the much needed grocery gift cards to support clients. And to those who have given financial donations to VWTH during this incredibly challenging time, thank you. Your generosity is deeply appreciated. 
In case you missed it...
Victoria Women’s Transition House Society collaborates, advocates and educates to address and prevent intimate partner violence and abuse of women and children through supportive shelter, housing, counselling and other community-based services.

Victoria Women's Transition House Society is a registered charity. 
Our charitable registration number is: 10817 3501 RR0001.
Territory Acknowledgment
It is with much respect to the Lkwungen and SENĆOŦEN speaking peoples of the  W SÁNEĆ, Esquimalt, and Songhees Nations, on whose traditional territories the Victoria Women’s Transition House Society is located, that we make this acknowledgment with the expressed shared hope to live in communities free of intimate partner violence.