The Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax has launched a crowdfunding campaign to meet increased demand for their services.
The centre provides victim counselling, training, education and prevention programs and says there’s been a growing need for their services in recent years.
READ MORE: Sexual violence prevention strategy gets boost from new provincial grants
“We have relied over the years on core operational funding through government grants and sometimes we have funding for special projects,” said executive director, Jackie Stevens.
“But our current operational funding does not sustain the ongoing requests that we receive for services, so we are looking for other sources of funding through corporate sponsorship and other ways to grow our funds. So, the crowdfunding is part of this initiative.”
Stevens says Avalon is the only sexual assault centre in the Halifax region and provides services for one of the highest population bases in the province. However, they have identified since 2011 that their core funding was lacking.
High-profile cases, such as the death of Rehtaeh Parsons in 2012 and the recent Jian Ghomeshi verdict, has also increased awareness about sexual assault and Stevens says the centre has noticed more people approaching Avalon for help.
In June 2015, the province released a sexual violence strategy, which provided new funding for the centre. However, Stevens says their need has grown beyond that.
READ MORE: New Sexual Violence Strategy to focus on prevention, victim support
“At the beginning of the provincial strategy, we were given funding in order to hire new therapists to address the wait list and that made a big difference but that funding is no longer available but the need for that funding is still imperative.”
Stevens says Avalon has seen an increase in demand for all of their programs and services.
Last year, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program responded to the highest number of immediate sexual assaults in the history of the program. As well, the centre finds the requests for community education and professional training has exceeded their capacity.
“There’s just demand overall for the organization to continue to provide the services,” she said.
The crowdfunding campaign has a goal of raising $10,000 by the end of May 2016. Money raised will go directly to intervention, prevention and support services.
For more information on the campaign, you can visit the Stand With Avalon website.