For immediate release: May 6, 2021

Vancouver, BC –Safety Changes Everything outreach program, created and implemented by Battered Women’s Support Services, starts today in four neighborhoods in Vancouver.

The outreach program is a direct response to the intersections of COVID-19, the opioid crisis, and the increasing levels of violence against women and girls in our community. Covering the regions of Vancouver Downtown Eastside, Commercial Drive, Kingsway and the Granville Strip area, the outreach program operates outside of service hours as a resource to help increase women’s safety.

“Our outreach program will be responding to the girls and women who are facing the intersecting challenges and impacts of the increase levels of gender violence that they experience at home and on the streets, as well as we will be responding to the hardship that COVID 19 pandemic has brought together with an ongoing opioid crisis. During these difficult times it is key that we reach out to those who are at risk and in need of our support”, says Rosa Elena Arteaga, Director of Direct Services and Clinical Practice at BWSS.

The work of the outreach team involves being visible in the community; walking on the streets connecting with women and girls to help building or strengthening relationships with the organizations already assisting women and girls in the community. Key focus is to identify the gaps particularly around women’s safety and responding to violence against women and girls in the community. Most importantly, the outreach team provides immediate crisis response to instances of violence against women to provide, emotional support, connecting to resources, advocacy, accompaniment to police, the hospital or medical services.

“Central City Foundation is grateful and honored to be a part of this incredibly needed community-led initiative in response to the alarming increase in gender-based and sexualized violence against women across our inner-city community”, says Jennifer Johnstone, President and CEO of Central City Foundation. “Our funding of this program is illustrative of our commitment to support community-focused and community-led solutions that will foster a resilient, caring and inclusive community where it is possible for all people to overcome injustice, participate and thrive.” This program fills a vital gap in resources as currently there is not an anti-violence organization providing streetbased outreach to women and girls in these communities who have experienced domestic or sexualized violence.

Media contact:
Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director, BWSS – 604-808-0507
About Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS)
Established in 1979, Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) is on the front-line in the effort to end gender violence, including domestic and sexual violence. Every day, the BWSS team takes action through the delivery of direct services, training, legal, institutional and systemic advocacy and social enterprise
responding to over 18,000 requests for service annually – with COVID-19 requests have increased to over 30,000. Forty-one years later and BWSS continues as a committed member of the decolonizing and antioppression feminist movement emphasizing the necessity of community-based approaches and interventions into what are some of the most pressing social problems of our time. For more information: www.bwss.org