Before Alisa’s Wish Child and Youth Advocacy Centre became a reality, children or youth’s typical first stop was the police station.
Imagine being a young victim – on the worst day of your life with everything falling apart – you have to sit in a grey, cold police station waiting room with uniformed and armed police walking around dealing with every type of criminal.
Imagine being a victim and having to move from the waiting room to another building – then waiting again – often leaving your supporting family behind. Then talking to another police officer and being taken for a medical exam to tell your abuse story… again. By the second or third time, you start to shut down. Emotionally exhausted, you no longer want to continue reliving the terrible pain. Then you find out you’ll have to tell your story yet again – in court.
Following this emotionally painful, confusing and very frightening day, you and your family members now have to figure out, “what next”?
There are notes on a counselling service to contact that may have a two month wait list. Another name of a victim services worker. Yet another name of a social worker – all expecting your call. All expecting you to tell your abuse story again so they can help you.
Since you have told and relived your story multiple times – at times choosing to not tell it at all – the quality of these interviews used for court evidence can become compromised.
The likelihood of prosecution becomes slim. Overwhelmed, you may not have the energy to make even a simple phone call to recommended counselling and victim services.
The chances of you receiving all the support that you need become slim. As time goes on, and you don’t receive the counselling or victim support you need, you may become isolated and depressed, or choose unhealthy ways to deal with your pain, such as drugs or alcohol.
The chances of you going through your healing journey in a healthy way become slim.
No matter the situation, or who is involved in supporting this child, it’s only the beginning of a long, horrific, emotionally exhausting journey.
The Centre helps victims and their supporting families. It is supported by these partners through a Steering Committee – managed by Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Community Services – and has one part time Child and Youth Counsellor and one part time Program Coordinator.
The Centre is a warm, friendly and welcoming first-entry point for children, youth, and their supporting family. The coffee pot in the home-like kitchen is always on with snacks, toys, couches and blankets being readily available. The victim is immediately assigned a ‘Child and Youth Counsellor’ who supports them from beginning to end throughout their traumatic journey.
The Child and Youth Counsellor arranges a call to all the service providers in the community and organizes connections to the services on behalf of the family.
Then the RCMP, social workers, and other community services offering support programs for the family join them at The Centre.
These connections ensure priority access to these support programs and services – reducing any transportation and time barriers.
The Centre has the potential to help 200 victims and their supporting families. It is supported by these partners through a Steering Committee – managed by Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Community Services – and has one part time Child and Youth Counsellor and one part time Program Coordinator.
The Centre has an operating budget of $165,000 per year and a Department of Justice funding contract lasting until March 2016.
Our goal is to rally our community and funders to financially sustain The Centre for two years – amounting to $330,000 (March 2016 - March 2018). Then the fundraising team can continue to develop and execute long-term sustainable fundraising plans to support the Centre’s ongoing operations well into the future.