War on Women

In December of 2014, the BC Coroners Services published a report about the War on Women. This title certainly was an attention getter, but was also truly warranted. Here in BC, there is most definitely a war on women being waged — and it seems clear that the women are losing. The tragic part of this war is that it is taking place in the one place where women are supposed to be safest — their homes. Domestic violence takes many forms and ranges in severity, but it all has lasting effects on women, their children and our communities. 

“Violence against women is preventable, predictable and research confirms that the lethality for women in abusive relationships increases when women are leaving or have left abusive male partners.” (BC Coroners report — War on Women)

In the past year, The Cridge Transition House for women provided services for about 140 women, plus their children, who were leaving abusive relationships. These services include those listed in the BC Coroners Report:

  1. Provide emotional support to women dealing with the effects of trauma
  2. Provide information about the dynamics of abuse and it’s effects
  3. Provide accompaniment to appointments
  4. Help women make safety plans
  5. Assessment of risk, threat and lethality
  6. Understand women’s process of staying, leaving and returning
  7. Help to co-ordinate systemic response between police, court services, child protection
  8. Advocate with police, court services, child protection when systemic response is substandard
  9. Help women find housing – transitional or permanent
  10. Help women deal with economic challenges
  11. Help women to support their children with the effects of witnessing their mother’s abuse

If you are someone you know is struggling with violence in the home, please contact our staff and find the help needed. 250 479 3963

BC Coroners Report War on Women

http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/coroners/reports/docs/IntimatePartnerViolence.pdf

Christmas, Poverty and Living in Victoria

It has been many years since I have had the privilege of celebrating Christmas in Victoria — many years of spending it in a developing country where Christmas is a day, not a season. I approached this Christmas a bit leery of being sucked into the commercialism of the season, and not wanting that to be the primary experience for my kids.  As a part of my job, I read the Times Colonist and keep abreast of what is happening in Victoria on social media — also a new experience for me. And while I am cynical about the commercialism of the season, I must admit that the overwhelming message that I received from our local media is that Victoria cares. Every day in the news are articles about people and organizations that are working hard to make Victoria a better place to live, a community that cares for its own and shows concern about the issues of homelessness and poverty. This weeks series in the TC about Hidden Poverty has been excellent — kudos to Sarah Petrescu. http://digital.timescolonist.com/epaper/showlink.aspx?bookmarkid=99C9LZYP2M98

Engaging people in discussion about poverty in our city is obviously not straightforward. My perception is that the folks at the TC are endeavoring to do in a sensitive and timely manner.  But the question that remains after reading these articles is — What can we do about it?  How can the average person in Victoria make a difference that will last throughout the year, not just during this season?  How can we ensure that more low-income housing is built, that organizations like The Mustard Seed and the Transition Houses are funded and that the services needed for people with mental illness are in place? How can we as a community engage with our local, provincial and federal governments to deal with these issues in our city? Talking about it and raising awareness is so important — but if there is no action, it becomes futile. 

I’m looking for a response — how do YOU think change can come about in Victoria and what can we as Victorian’s do to make it happen?

Child Care Centre Christmas Hours

Christmas Hours

A Christmas blessing from a former client

One of our former Cridge Transition House for Women clients attended the Healthy Relationships luncheon last week, and shared a bit of prose that she wrote in gratitude. I took a few stanzas out to share with you.  A lovely Christmas blessing to us!

“The real miracle of Christmas visited me during my adjusting year 2012!
Lessons taught to me; instilled by strangers, volunteers, and especially workers of The Cridge Centre.
It was MY Christmas, after all the tribulations of many years of silent abuse.
The burdened heart found freedom, the soul replenished so that today Christmas is cherished with continuing hope!
Asking for help is the most precious gift given to me!
Thanks to the management, staff, volunteers, and unknown patrons. Through your dedication and tireless support, we are happy! Merry Christmas”

Gingerbread Extravaganza!

The Iredale Group Architecture have made some incredible gingerbread houses for the kids at the Cridge Transition House for Women. What a great way to share some love on this Giving Tuesday!

gingerbread star wars

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/12/01/bc-architects-gingerbread-houses-kids-photos_n_6250626.html

What is Respitality?

Respitality volunteer preparing baskets for our families

Respitality is one of the beautiful ideas that grew into a vibrant program based on a need that was evident in our community. It is a combination of respite care and hospitality, wrapped up with love, and provided to the families of children with special needs. We have over 450 families registered through the program — they each get one night a year to stay in a local hotel and receive a basket full of treats.  For many of our families, this is the only chance they will get all year to get away and have their batteries recharged. We hear over and over again, how grateful the families are – how much they needed and appreciate the break. Parents everywhere can identify with that crazy need sometimes to escape the kids – imagine how hard that would be if your child has special needs that make a regular babysitter impossible. Our families often face exhaustion and isolation — they need a break. And so, here at The Cridge, we are so thrilled to be able to give them that much-deserved break – to bless them with that opportunity to take a breath, relax and know that their child is well cared for. We are also so grateful for the hotels who provide their rooms free of charge, and the local businesses who provide us with gifts and other products with which to pamper our families.

Learn more about the Cridge Respitality program and its services.

Orange Day is TOMORROW!

What is Orange Day, you might ask?  A good question since most people — myself included up until a few weeks ago — have no idea.  It is an international day of recognition and protest against the violence perpetrated against women.  Orange Day is a United Nations initiative that was started in 2008 as a call to action against the pandemic of violence happening world wide against women and girls. In an effort to raise awareness, educate and encourage political will, the UNITE campaign has spread around the world with its message of hope for survivors and the need for immediate change.

Here in Canada, the issue of violence against women has been in the forefront for a number of weeks but the question is whether it will fall into the background again as other news comes to light. Although this is not an issue which affects all of us directly, it does affect more of us than we care to admit.  Even if it was a purely “female” issue, which it most certainly is NOT, it would still be affecting 50% of our population.  What other pandemic in the world has affected 50% of the global population? Half of the population of our world are women — and yet the issue is still not considered important enough for global action. This is horrifying and unjust in the extreme.

Here at The Cridge Centre for the Family, we take the issue seriously. Our Dovetail Services provides housing, care and support for women and their children who leave an abusive relationship. Finding safety is the first step towards healing and our staff and volunteers are passionate about doing that and so much more. And so, as a staff team, and as an organization, we stand up and say NO to violence against women — we wear orange proudly on the 25th of every month and continue to be proactive to end violence against women and girls.

What are you going to do?

Our Vital Volunteers

For the past 20 years, The Cridge Transition House for Women (CTHW) has benefited from the wonderful work of volunteers. Over the years, dozens of talented women have volunteered their time at CTHW to offer a listening ear to a woman or child, help with cooking meals and keeping the House tidy, provide transportation to  important appointments, pick up and sort through donations, and countless more tasks!

Our volunteers come with a wide-range of skills, personal experiences and talents to share. The staff team at CTHW includes a volunteer coordinator who recruits, trains and coordinates these volunteers so that they can make use of their unique set of gifts in the work they do with our women and children. Here are just a few snapshots of the vital work that volunteers do at CTHW:

  • Marj has such an encouraging heart. Her favourite thing to do is just sit and chat with the women and children at CTHW, and she can often be found sharing a cup of tea with a resident in the eating area. She is also always willing to offer practical help, and is the first to offer to help a resident cook dinner or do the laundry. A favourite memory of Marj was the time she put on the Raffi Christmas CD and danced around the Christmas tree with all of the children!
  • Our faithful volunteer Evie comes each week on the night before our groceries are delivered. She dutifully goes through our fridges, tosses old leftovers, and creates AMAZING meals out of whatever ingredients remain. Her ability to create something delicious from nothing is such a valuable gift to us. Evie also has a green thumb and can often be found in the backyard, helping to keep the garden alive and the weeds at bay!
  • Melody has been our Wednesday evening volunteer for many years now. As such, she has an essential role in getting our weekly Cobs Bread donation from the storefront to the House. It is a huge job, as there are many many bins full of bread each week that must be picked up, packaged and brought back to CTHW. Because of Melody’s commitment to volunteer, women at CTHW as well as families in our Supportive Transitional Housing are able to access free bread each week.

These are just a few examples of the vital volunteers that give of their time and talents to enhance the lives of women at CTHW. We are so thankful!

 

Thoughts about Jian Ghomeshi and Violence against Women

I was a huge Jian Ghomeshi fan, and tuned in nightly to listen to Q on CBC. As a fan, I was deeply shocked to learn of the hateful, violent acts he has perpetrated against women over the past decade or more.

But as shocking and sad as that has been, I have been SO incredibly encouraged by the national conversation that has emerged in our newspapers, radio, television and social media. People are having real, honest dialogue about the realities of violence against women. Every day since the Jian Ghomeshi story broke, I have seen coverage of this issue that has far surpassed anything I have seen before. It is terrible that it would take something like this to bring it to the forefront, but I am thanking God that (at least for now) it is part of our national conversation. Thought I would share a few highlights of what I have come across:

  •  George Stromboloupolos shared the Jackson Katz video below to all of his Facebook and Twitter followers. He has tweeted a lot about violence against women as a men’s issue. I was so glad to see that he sent out Dr. Katz’ important message:
  • This piece in the Huffington Post came out a few days after the allegations. It is written by a former crown prosecutor and she lays out in stark detail the realities of what women face when they choose to report rape. “Women know in their bones what the system has in store when they pick up the phone to call 9-1-1”. She nails it:
  • This is an article in the Toronto Star that de-bunks the myths around rape and sexual abuse. It really honours the bravery of the 9 victims who have stepped forward this week.

So often it can feel like the world around us just doesn’t get it! I have felt so encouraged to read the truth about violence against women in black and white.

 Candace Stretch

Assistant Manager 
The Cridge Transition House for Women

DF’s Story: Celebrating Success

brainInury IconDF came to live at Mary Cridge Manor (MCM) just over three years ago. He was homeless, living in a shelter, and had spent the majority of his adult life in and out of prison. He is a recovering alcoholic and addict. When he arrived at MCM, DF took methadone daily under the care of a doctor.

DF settled into the routine of MCM quite quickly; however, initially he seemed reserved and shy and rarely came to the office or attended functions. Although it was somewhat concerning to the team, the protocol was to keep building the trust and relationships in hopes of getting him to engage. What soon became apparent to the team was that DF was not “avoiding doing the work of rehab” but rather he was “celebrating” that he had a home. DF was thrilled beyond belief that he was no longer on the street and declared, “I haven’t had a home in five years.” He was extremely proud of his apartment, the furniture and belongings he had gathered, and simply wanted to enjoy the surroundings he had always longed for, but never had.

In following the “whatever it takes” (WIT) model, the team worked with DF to flesh out his three-year goals and to develop a plan to achieve them. DF’s goals were similar to other client’s (e.g. return to work), but he had one we had yet to encounter: DF wanted to come off methadone. He knew this would be challenging, but he also knew and believed whole-heartedly that it was something he had to do in order to move forward with his life so he could live the way he wanted.

With the dedication of skilled team members, and in consultation with DF’s physician, medical and support agencies, a one-year plan was devised to continually and slowly reduce DF’s methadone until he was no longer taking it. DF worked hard with his physician and team members to complete the process and to find other meaningful ways (e.g. mindfulness) to help him cope day-to-day.

DF works several days a week in the MCM employment project, which consists of building and shipping greeting cards. He is always ready to lend a hand in the card project and with other events happening at MCM. His care and concern for others is second-to-none and he demonstrates every day that anyone can turn their life around when given the supports and services to do so. 

DF is looking forward to the next chapter of his life. He is exploring options to return to school for training as a Community Support Worker. His future goal includes opening a recovery house for addicts. DF has the drive and heart to help others and we have no doubt in his ability to work hard and achieve this goal.