Changes In Store For Barrhead Victim Services

·2 min read

Barrhead Victim Services has a new program manager. Kristina Kyllonen has been working closely with the outgoing program manager since the end of November to ensure a smooth transition. Originally from British Columbia, Kristina has lived in Stony Plain for 15 years and has worked with Victim Services in some capacity over the last five years.

The Barrhead Victim Services Unit (VSU) provides services to both Swan Hills and Fort Assiniboine. They work closely with the Barrhead and Swan Hills RCMP detachments to offer assistance to people who have been affected by crime, trauma, or tragedy. The VSU is able to support its clients through the entire process of a police investigation, traumatic events or crises, and the criminal justice process. Their volunteer advocates provide information, referrals for further resources, and support for their clients with courtesy, compassion, and respect.

The Barrhead VSU supports their clients through incidents such as:

· Domestic Violence

· Family Violence

· Sexual Assault

· Assault

· Child Abuse

· Sudden Deaths

· Stalking and Harassment

· Property Crimes

· Other Traumatic Events

The pandemic has affected some of the services offered by the VSU and how those services are delivered. COVID-19 protocols prevent the VSU’s volunteer advocates from responding to the scene of traumatic events in “crisis call-outs.” The usual training activities for the VSU’s workers have been disrupted as well. In addition, many court dates have been cancelled due to the pandemic, which in turn filters down through the experiences of many of the VSU’s clients.

Some significant changes are coming to the Barrhead VSU and other VSUs around the province, but unfortunately, the specific details of these changes haven’t yet been announced. The Barrhead VSU is a non-profit organization that is partially funded through the Justice and Solicitor General Victims of Crime Fund. Some of the possible changes to come could see VSUs become provincial or municipal government entities or go to a zonal organizational structure. This uncertainty has been stressful for the people who work in the VSUs, mainly because these proposed changes would fundamentally change the VSUs themselves and how they operate.

On a happier note, the Barrhead VSU has recently concluded an extremely successful fundraising campaign. After being overwhelmed with exceedingly generous donations from nearby municipalities, local businesses, and private donors, they put together ten themed gift baskets for a raffle, which then sold out completely. Beginning on March 1, 2021, the Barrhead VSU will draw the winners for 2 of the gift baskets live on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Barrhead-Victim-Services-1884640488298862) each day this week.

The Grizzly Gazette would like to congratulate Barrhead Victim Services on a successful fundraising campaign and thank them for all that they do for the communities that they help and support.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette