Women’s shelters, sexual assault centres face funding shortfalls during COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video: 'Concerns for domestic violence victims in self-isolation'
Concerns for domestic violence victims in self-isolation
Domestic violence and sexual assault shelters have concerns for victims in self-isolation. Callum Smith reports. – Apr 2, 2020

Charities in New Brunswick are facing uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make its impact felt in many ways, including financially.

But there’s also concern for vulnerable people like victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.

Kristal LeBlanc, the executive director of the Beauséjour Family Crisis Resource Centre in Shediac, N.B., expects to face funding shortfalls between $150,000 to $200,000.

READ MORE: 10 new cases identified in New Brunswick, bringing total to 91

Meanwhile, Dwayne Hayes, the chair of the board of directors for Crossroads for Women in Moncton, expects they’ll take a financial hit of about $70,000.

The main reason, both centres say, is as a result of cancelled fundraising activities due to the pandemic and health protocols.

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LeBlanc said the annual ‘Run for Women’ typically raises about $65,000. While the usual-summer run hasn’t been cancelled yet, LeBlanc said everyone is feeling the pinch.

Kristal LeBlanc, the executive director of the Beauséjour Family Crisis Resource, said she expects domestic violence will increase as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Callum Smith / Global News

“We’re hopeful that we’re still going to do it,” she said. “It’s just really challenging not knowing what the donor climate is going to be for events, even when you postpone them.”

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Crossroads for Women also expects a hefty shortfall that will strain the organization.

READ MORE: ‘It’s critical’: More than 200 charities call on feds for funding amid COVID-19

“The ‘Atlantic Rock Run’ typically contributes $30,000 to 35,000 and the ‘Walk a Mile’ event can bring in $20,000 to $25,000 ,” Hayes said. “Without those two [and other fundraisers], we’re looking at probably a $65,000 to 70,000 deficit.”
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They’re asking for donations of $10 per person, and asking people to spread the word to five people to help keep things going. Hayes says they hope their events can continue, rather than postponing them for another year.

“The challenge is we need the help right now to keep the doors open,” he said.

Dwayne Hayes, the chair of the board of directors for Crossroads for Women in Moncton, expects they’ll take a financial hit of about $70,000 due to jeopardized fundraisers. Submitted: Dwayne Hayes

The New Brunswick centres are confident they’ll see some federal assistance from previous financial aid packages announced at the federal level, although there’s no certainty to how much money they could receive and how long it will take.

The isolation requirements prompt concerns add up for people in vulnerable situations.

“For women and children who are in a situation of domestic violence or abuse, that is elevated under the stresses of COVID-19 and staying home and financial issues and so on,” Hayes said.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus self-isolation could lead to increased domestic violence: N.S. agencies

“I do think that the longer people are stuck in their homes,” LeBlanc said. “The announcement [Thursday] that schools will be closed until the rest of the year, violence will escalate.”

Leaving a reminder that emergency phone lines are always available.

“This is the time that we need to get the word out there that we are there to help them and that we are operational and still running,” she said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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