It’s believed less women in need are falling through the gaps in Grande Prairie. Thanks to extra funding from the provincial government in the fall of 2015, Odyssey House has seen the number of women it’s able to help through its outreach services double. Executive Director Ebony Rempel says it’s good news, even if it might not seem like it.
“Because if our numbers increase, that means more people are accessing the services so that kind of reflects more people that are in abusive relationships, but I think those people were already in those situations; now we just have more services and support to be able to assist them with whatever they might need.
They’ve hired two more outreach workers and created a coordinator position. Those workers can help with everything from counselling to court support, employment, and addiction services. Rempel adds that having more of them means they can spend more time with each client.
“Previously, maybe somebody would call in and ask something about the food bank, and we would have given them the food bank’s number and then left it there. Now we actually have the capability to ask more questions, dig a little deeper, and find out they need more that just the food bank.”
If they were to see even more funding, Rempel says she’d like to work on a strategic plan that brings the various organizations in Grande Prairie together to end violence against women.
“The best situation is if we can really work as a team to help people in that way and so it can be streamlined so people don’t have to be re-victimized by re-telling their story. This is really, I think, how we’re going to be successful and how we’re going to make systematic change.”
In addition to their work directly with women and children fleeing abusive relationships, Odyssey House staff can also meet with men, speak at schools and to other people looking for more information on domestic violence, as well as running a 24 hour crisis line. The women’s shelter itself has 42 beds, and a 14 unit housing complex for long-term stays opened a year ago.