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Lethbridge victim-serving agencies sign MOU: ‘This type of collaboration is essential’

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WATCH ABOVE: It’s a big week for four organizations that serve sexual assault victims in Lethbridge. As Erik Bay explains, a new agreement is in place that will lead to more teamwork between the agencies and, in turn, better care for those who need it most – Nov 18, 2021

Victim-serving agencies in Lethbridge are working together to help those impacted by sexual violence.

The four groups have signed a memorandum of understanding, with the goal of creating a collaborative structure to best support the city.

“This work is never done in isolation,” said Chinook Sexual Assault Centre CEO Kristine Cassie.

“We’re involved in many different community organizations… and even the general public in our community. So this type of collaboration is essential to the work that we do.”

Read more: Lethbridge’s Child and Youth Advocacy Centre to have ‘large impact’ on children, families

Victim services organizations from the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre, YWCA, Lethbridge Police Service and RCMP are all part of the new agreement.

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The belief is the MOU will improve care from start to finish, returning the power of choice to affected individuals.

“To be able to have the freedom of where they want to go, if they want referrals, those things are really important when you’re trying to navigate a sexual assault,” said YWCA Lethbridge & District interim CEO Tracy James.

The initiative will see the groups work jointly to create a better environment for those in need of supports, training each other in their own areas of expertise.

“It is really important that any individual that goes (through) sexual violence or any kind of violence is supported with respect and a sense of safety,” James said.

Read more: Sexual assault trial involving multiple victims underway in Lethbridge

According to Cassie, the agreement is one of the first of its kind in the province, but is gaining traction in other areas.

The agencies have already been contacted by groups in Red Deer looking into a similar partnership.

“We’re looking forward to seeing where this is going to go,” Cassie said.

“Right now, we’re going to focus on how we’re going to continue to motivate each other to do the best work possible and where that training element is going to be, and just keep the ball rolling.”

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And the local effort is also already growing, with plans on bringing more rural victim services units into the southern Alberta fold.

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