The Fernie Women’s Resource Centre has moved location and is expanding the services offered to women and the community. Established in 1979, the centre has been operating out of the Fourth Avenue location but after nearly a year of planning have found a new home at 1592 10th Avenue. “Our old space was getting too small for the amount of people attending the centre and we simply needed more space,” says outreach worker Lauren Fox.
In addition to the women’s safe house, the new location has another building currently under development which will become a space where general programs can be run separately from women specific programs. The new building will include facilities such as a computer room and kitchen. “Part of our job is to enable people’s capacity in the community,” says Lauren who believes that food preparation is a way to empower people, improve health and allow people to open up through more relaxed interaction.
The Fernie Women’s Centre primarily acts as an information hub, referring people to programs and supports that exist in the Elk Valley. “A lot of what we do is about knowing what resources are around for women and families and being able to pass that information on,” says Lauren. They also offer free counselling and help run a number of community programs including Strong Start, Better Babies, Parent Tot Fun Times and Fernie MOMS group.
Most of the centre’s funding comes from Provincial Government and Interior Health but they also rely on support from the community by way of monetary donations, volunteering and fund-raising campaigns. One such initiative was the Fernie Foodies cookbook, which has sold more than 700 copies, creating much needed revenue as well as raising people’s awareness of the centre. “The Women’s Centre wants to become more visible and expand its role in the Elk Valley,” says Lauren.
In order to do this the centre is looking to the future with a new website, logo and an upcoming Facebook page. They are also hoping to host an open house and a grand opening to the new program facility building when it is finished; as well as organizing events for International Women’s Day and Action on Violence Against Women on December 6th 2011.
The move to the new location creates possibilities for the Fernie Women’s Centre that didn’t exist before. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and creates a peaceful place where women can come to have a cup of coffee and a chat and get the resources they need to move forward. Lauren is excited by the program and space potential and says that now “we can dream big”.
For more information on the centre and the programs and services available, visit their website at www.ferniewomenscentre.com or drop in at 10th Avenue and see for yourself.
By Steph Fleming