Volume 94, Issue 60

Wednesday, January 10, 2001


Academic visit raises questions

Finally - York strike over

City will meet to discuss snow removal

UWO proves beer's healthiness

Women's centre forced to turn some away - Lack of funding keeps women's service at bare minimum


Planet Me

Women's centre forced to turn some away - Lack of funding keeps women's service at bare minimum

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

For the first time in its 18-year history, the London Battered Women's Advocacy Centre will be forced to turn away women in search of help.

"Over the next four weeks we will be unable to take any more clients," said the centre's executive director, Megan Walker. "Demand is higher then it has ever been and all of our counsellors are currently maxed out."

She added London area shelters have been chronically underfunded for years, but added this problem is unique in several ways. "The number of women in the London area that have been murdered has raised awareness," she said, of the recent increase of people coming into the centre.

"There have also been numerous referrals for our service from the newly started domestic violence court and medical doctors required to send those treated for domestic violence."

While the majority of funding for the centre – $360,000 – is provided by the province, there is also internal fundraising within the community, Walker said. "We raise around $100,000 annually, but the costs go well beyond this amount."

Walker added London has gone on the record as saying they are not responsible to fund these types of provincial initiatives and also said she will be pushing the government to base funding on volume rather than an arbitrary number.

Bryden McFarlen, program supervisor for the Ministry of Community and Social Services, said there is always a greater need than there are resources, but added new funding has been increased in this area in the form of transitional support counsellors who work in the centres. "Outside of that, there is nothing on the horizon planned to increase funding."

McFarlen said the funding problem is a regrettable fact of life and suggested local centres continue working with one another to combine and extend their collective budgets. "There will always be line-ups of people for limited amounts of money," he said.

London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco, said although this type of funding is not within the City's jurisdiction, the City would take up the fight for centres like these to ensure the provincial government hears their concerns.

DeCicco said requests from community programs such as women's shelters are received on an annual basis and added the centre was given a small monetary grant last year. "The best way to help this problem is through provincial funding and we encourage the government to address the situation," she said.

Western's Equity service director, Jennifer Schoeder, said it would be hard to say if a temporary closing like this could ever happen to the program at Western. "I don't think lack of funding would be much of an issue," she said, adding the feedback she has received indicates service is currently meeting the needs of students on campus.

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