Medicine Hat’s Sanare Centre has moved to a new location in an effort to expand local support services for sexual abuse and sexual assault survivors.
The non-profit centre, previously located on Third Street SE, is expected to be fully moved in to its new space off Strachan Road beginning next week.
The move is one of many changes the centre has undergone over the past few years. Last year, the centre changed its name from Southeastern Alberta Sexual Assault Response Committee (SARC), to Sanare – Latin for ‘healing.’
“We’ve had a large amount of growth over the last seven years; when we launched out seven years ago, when we launched out on our own,” executive director Christina Johnson told the News. “One of the reasons for moving is we just we simply outgrew our space. The other reason is that we, alongside our partners, are opening up a child advocacy centre which will be run out of the new location as well.”
Sanare’s Child Advocacy Centre, which will provide support to children who have experienced extreme abuse or neglect, including sexual abuse, is expected to be fully operational by the end of the summer. Partners in the project include Medicine Hat Police Services, RCMP, Alberta Health Services Addiction and Mental Health and provincial Children’s Services.
Existing Sanare programs will also continue operating from the new location, including sexual trauma-specific therapy, education services and outreach services.
“A multidisciplinary team will be working out of the centre,” said Johnson. “So Sanare Centre really does bring together amazing professionals who are empathetic, compassionate and helped make our communities safer and more resilient.
“Our work helps people, not only in Medicine Hat but throughout the region, to understand and address the real impact of social, sexual and domestic trauma. Our goal is to break the cycle of abuse and to help men, women and children live healthy lives.”
With an estimated 45 per cent of Albertans over the age of 18 having experienced sexual violence during their lifetime, Johnson believes access to support services is necessary.
“This is a real issue for our community,” she said. “This is a real concern. And our numbers in Medicine Hat absolutely aligned with what the provincial data would say.”
Johnson hopes the centre’s new location will also improve accessibility for individuals accessing services.
“It’s a great location,” she said “There’s a lot of parking. There’s a bus stop half a block walk away. There’s lots of services, there’s hotels, there’s all the things that people need nearby.”
The centre is waiting on several internal renovations before officially opening at the new location, such as installation of an elevator.
Johnson thanks community members and partners for their continued support over the past few years, as Sanare Centre underwent changes.
“It’s been a real joint effort between community and our government funders to allow us to be able to open the doors,” she said. “Our goal for the future, is to keep building evidence-based programming to be able to support the community to be as healthy as it can be.”
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News