New Port Saunders women's centre a much-needed space, says executive director

Submitted by Terri Lynn Hamlyn

A new women's centre on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula aims to help make services more accessible to women in the region.

Terri Lynn Hamlyn, executive director of the NorPen Status of Women Council, says the area has needed a support group for years to address major issues in rural communities.

"We are discovering there are many needs in these areas," Hamlyn told CBC's Newfoundland Morning. "There are all forms of abuse, there's a lack of services and the lack of awareness of those services."

The new centre is located in Port Saunders. Before the new centre opened, women in the area had to travel to Corner Brook, 275 kilometres away, to access a women's centre.

"Really there was no voice for women [on the Northern Peninsula]. And there's so many barriers," Hamlyn said. "They come in asking for help, there's that stigma. But hopefully when [assessments] are done and we compile all our  information, we'll go back and do programs and provide services for all the women in this area."

'They felt so empowered'

Women on Newfoundland's west coast are already responding to the new centre in Port Saunders, with event attendance rising, according to Hamlyn.

"Oh, they are overjoyed. One of the comments already was that they felt so empowered," Hamlyn said.

Submitted by Terri Lynn Hamlyn

"As you know in rural Newfoundland, many husbands work away," Hamlyn added. "To add this support where [wives] can come out to a centre and be around each other for support and talk will be a great thing for them."

The centre recently started a walking program and hosted a Take Back the Night walk in September, and it continues to expand.

The group is now looking toward the Christmas season, launching its Purses with a Purpose campaign. The centre is asking women to donate purses with basic necessities inside, such as toothpaste and deodorant, in order to help the community and spread Christmas cheer this season.

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