Big changes are coming to the Victoria Women’s Sexual Assault Centre, as organizers get ready to move offices and officially open their doors to another segment of society.
The centre has purchased office space at 3060 Cedar Hill Rd. and will be moving its offices from its current View Street location. Donor bequests have put the centre in the position to make the purchase and allow long-term stability. The centre says purchasing the space, and sharing it with the Victoria Women’s Transition House, which is already housed there, will save it money in the long run.
After a three-year search for funding, the centre has also been awarded a $120,000 three-year grant by The Vancouver Foundation, which will help the service provider become more accessible to transgendered people.
The grant money will be used to provide services for transgendered people, including a part-time position for a trans inclusion co-ordinator. That worker will oversee a community consultation, review of services and policies, organize re-branding, staff and board training, and create a communications plan with community education.
The changes are also being reflected in a name change, to the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre.
“(The plan) came forward to us from members of the trans community who explained that they felt (lost) in the middle of services,” said Lenore Kennedy, the centre’s resource development manager.
“There were women-only services and men-only services, and while both … have always served transgendered people, it hasn’t always been a place of comfort.”
For example, a person who has experienced sexual assault as a woman, but has since transitioned to become a man, may not feel comfortable in a men-only trauma centre.
Trans people have been welcomed at the Women’s Sexual Assault Centre in the past, Kennedy said, but this change will allow for services specifically catered to their needs.
“The whole community really embraces this because we truly do believe in accessibility of services for everyone,” she said.
The grant money will be doled out at $40,000 over three years. The centre will open at its new location on Sept. 3 and will be closed for the move on Aug. 28 and 29.