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Support groups for LGBTQ2IA+ community launched

Members of the LGBTQ2IA+ community who are healing from sexual violence will soon have some more support.

The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) in partnership with the Red Deer Queer Community Association (RDQCA) will be offering support groups for LGBTQ2IA+ youths and adult survivors next month.

The support groups will be facilitated virtually and will give members of the LGBTQ2IA+ community who are survivors of sexual violence an opportunity to feel accepted, heard and understood.

“Sexual violence can have psychological, emotional, and physical effects on any survivor regardless of race, religion, age, or gender,” said CASASC Executive Director Patricia Arango. “Overall, the survivor support groups allow young women and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals affected by sexual violence to discover new ways to cope and link with other survivors to develop a sense of community which survivors might be missing in their lives.”

Arango said the groups are designed to encourage individuals who have been affected by sexual violence to regain their voice in a space of healing.

“We are giving them the ability to take back their power,” she said.

Support groups have restorative effects to survivors as they create safe spaces where individuals feel comfortable not only expressing their feelings, but to talk about the impacts of sexual violence has on their lives. Individuals in the groups can begin to heal through support facilitated by RDQCA hosts and trained counsellors of CASASC.

“RDQCA is thrilled to be working with CASASC as the organization has always been a huge advocate for the LGBTQ2IA+ community,” said RDQCA Chairperson Rhys Pugatschew. “RDQCA hopes this group will help LGBTQ2IA+ folk find their community and heal together. Being a part of the community has never been easy and we hope this program will bring everyone together during this difficult time.”

The support groups are funded through the Fund for Gender Equality. The Fund for Gender Equality is supported by a collaboration between Community Foundations of Canada and the Equality Fund, with support from the Government of Canada.

The virtual group sessions launch next month with the adult group starting on May 6 at 5:30 p.m. and youth group starting May 8 at 2:30 p.m.

For more information or to sign up contact CASASC at 403-340-1124 or email reddeerqueercommunity@gmail.com

Find more info on RDQCA here 

Rotary Club of Red Deer supports help line

The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) recently received funding from the Rotary Club of Red Deer.

CASASC Executive Director Patricia Arango accepted the $5,000 grant funding from Rotary Club members during their virtual monthly meeting on January 11.

The grant awarded to CASASC supports the ongoing operation of the 24 Sexual Violence Text, Webchat and Phone Help Line.

The help line is a community-driven support line available to anyone within the community, anytime of the day, who is affected by sexual violence. Anonymous, confidential support, information and referrals are provided through this volunteer-driven help line. Whether you’ve recently experienced sexual violence, you are a friend of someone who has in the past, or you are a support person who has a question, trained volunteers are there to listen and support. They are here to connect with you where you are and empower you to your next steps towards healing. This line is available to anyone in need across Alberta.

The 24 help line provides around the clock support in real-time, assisting with immediate issues of stress, distress or triggers. During the pandemic the help line saw a substantial increase: in July 2020 the help line saw a 234% increase in demand for service compared to July 2019. A 90.3% increase for service was recorded from June 2020 to July 2020.

The funds from the Rotary Club were generated from the Annual Christmas Donation campaign. Four other community organizations in Red Deer also recieved funds.

 

Giving Tuesday – Comfort items drive

Tuesday, Dec. 1st is Giving Tuesday, a global movement for giving and volunteering which takes place each year after Black Friday.

This year CASASC is launching a donation drive to collect comfort items for the SART (in-hospital) program.

CASASC offers a 24-hour Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). This team is a collaborative partnership between CASASC and the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. Together support and treatment is provided to those who have experienced recent sexual assault.

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre completes sexual assault exams for anyone within the Central Alberta Region and is the main regional artery and contact for towns and cities between Edmonton and Calgary. If a survivor decides to seek medical support at the hospital, it is reassuring to know a trained team is there to meet them and provide the best patient care and support.

When in the hospital, the survivor may also choose to speak with a CASASC trained SART member, who provide information and support. SART members offer each individual a care package that includes comfort items like a blanket, a stuffed animal, slippers or socks or a journal.

These comfort items provide individuals with a small piece of solace during a trying time. Each pair of slippers or blanket provided show compassion, care and love from the community.

SART members are there not only to support the survivor, but also their family members or anyone who may have come with them to the hospital.

The Central Alberta SART team provides in-hospital support to over 125 individuals each year.

Comfort items being collected include:

  • Slippers and/or fuzzy socks
  • Blankets
  • Journals

Due to COVID restrictions, only new items (or newly knitted items) are being accepted at this time.

Donations will be accepted between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at the CASASC main office (A201, 5212 48 Street). A donation bin will be set up in the front lobby area, just inside the doorway. Alberta Health Services guidelines will be strictly followed to protect the well-being of donors, clients, staff and community members.

Monetary donations will be accepted at the main office (cash, credit or cheque). Online donations to this campaign are accepted via our CanadaHelps page www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/central-alberta-sexual-assault-centre/comfort-and-care

 

Supportive Reporting offers safe space

The Supportive Reporting Program is offered to survivors of historical sexual assault that have not yet reported the incident(s).

The RCMP works collaboratively with CASASC to arrange for a trauma-informed, plain clothes police officer to meet the client at a non-police location. When at this location, options for reporting the crime, providing a statement and initiating an investigation are discussed.

The CASASC Police, Community + Court Support Worker is an advocate and source of information for the client – that safe guiding presence throughout the process.

To offer these services to survivors, the RCMP unit collaborates with a number of agencies in Red Deer including the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, CASASC, Southern Alberta Integrated Child Exploitation Unit and the Red Deer Hospital Sexual Assault Response Team.

Find more info here about CASASC’s Police, Community + Court Support Program.

Soroptimist International of Central Alberta supports CASASC

The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) recently received a donation from Soroptimist International of Central Alberta.

CASASC Communications Specialist Sarah Maetche (left) accepted the $2,150 donation from a Soroptimist representative along with other receiving organizations on Thursday, June 25.

The funds were generated from the Vagina Monologues event held in February. The Soroptimists raised a total of $17,200 and channeled the funds to seven organizations that support women and girls in the central Alberta region.

Alberta Government announces more funding for sexual assault support centres

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The Alberta Government is expanding front-line services across the province with a $8.1 million investment in the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS), to ensure survivors who take the brave step to come forward have the supports they need.

This funding announcement was made on March 7 in Edmonton.

As part of the AASAS membership, the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre will be one of the centres receiving increased funding.

Across the province, sexual assault centres and law enforcement are reporting increased demand for counselling services. The government-funded AASAS #IBelieveYou campaign against the backdrop of the global #MeToo movement, are starting to help survivors feel safe about reaching out for help.

“Courageous women in Alberta and around the world are finally breaking their silence and sharing their stories of sexual assault and harassment,” said Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean. “We hear them and we stand with them. Today, we are taking action – funding more counselling and helping people navigate the court and police systems so all survivors are supported on their healing journey.”

AASAS will use the money for ongoing funding of front-line services, including expanding crisis response and greater use of specialized police and court support workers. The funding is from Community and Social Services, Health, and Justice and Solicitor General.
“As a government, we owe it to survivors to take every step necessary to ensure they have the supports they need when they come forward,” said Minister of Community and Social Services Irfan Sabir. “This funding continues our government’s commitment to provide supports for survivors as well as tools for sexual assault prevention and education.”
The funding is additional to the almost $44 million invested since 2015 to support a wide range of programs and services to prevent sexual violence and support survivors in communities across Alberta.
“These funds will have a tremendous impact on the lives of survivors,” said AASAS CEO Deb Tomlinson. “They will not only address the 53 per cent increase in new counselling clients and unprecedented wait lists our member agencies faced, but will allow us to provide specialized services to rural areas of Alberta.”
AASAS will also hire more staff in seven under-served communities so survivors in those regions get the support they need close to home.
Sexual violence refers to any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality. Government works across ten ministries with agencies and community organizations across the province to prevent sexual violence, support survivors and ensure the social, justice, health and educational systems respond to survivors.

Funding details:

  • $6.225 million from Community and Social Services (CSS), for increased counselling, outreach and education services, and to develop a Collaborative Community Response Model targeting seven underserved regions in the province:
    • North West – High Level, High Prairie, Peavine, Rainbow Lake, Fort Vermillion;
    • North East – Fort Chipewyan, Fort McKay, Janvier;
    • North Central – Wabasca, Slave Lake, Athabasca;
    • Central West – Hinton, Jasper, Edson;
    • Central East – Bonnyville, Cold Lake, St. Paul, Lac La Biche;
    • Bow Valley – Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise; and
    • South West – Lethbridge, Cardston, Taber, Pincher Creek
  • $750,000 from Health for specialized counselling and expanded services.
  • $1.09 million from Justice and Solicitor General to enhance police and court support services.