by Andru McCracken

After canvassing the area to raise awareness about the Safe Shelter Program, coordinator Jana McMaster found very good knowledge of the program, in part thanks to posters like this one at Valemount’s CIBC. /ANDRU MCCRACKEN

When a woman went into a local gas station searching for a safe shelter, the community quickly connected her with the service.

The event was recorded on the facebook group Valemount Have Your Say, when a local store owner asked about the program.

“There is a woman here at my store looking for a women shelter. Does anyone know of one in town or close by?” – read the initial post.

The initial response from another Facebook user was that there wasn’t a shelter in Valemount, and that the closest one would be in Kamloops or Prince George, however things were quickly sorted out.

After receiving the number, the local store owner called it, but there wasn’t an answer.

“The end result was that she did get some assistance within a 15 minute period,” said Jana McMaster, who helps deliver the program with the Robson Valley Support Society as the McBride Safe Shelter Coordinator.

“I think we handled it. In an ideal world, when you call it, someone will pick it up immediately.”

McMaster said the Society has two 24 hour phone numbers, 250-569-7453 in McBride and 250-566-1248 in Valemount.

“We service the entire Robson Valley from Dome Creek to Albreda,” said McMaster.

McMaster said the numbers act as both a crisis line, a guide to local resources, and a way to get immediate help.

She said they provide information on domestic violence and what is a healthy relationship.

“It’s nice because you talk to somebody in the same area as you, show you options in your town as opposed to someone in Vancouver,” she said.

At its core, the safe shelter program is for women who are at risk of violence or are actively fleeing violence with or without children.

McMaster said the help can also be proactive.

“Maybe they fear this Friday night their partner will drink too much, and will be violent and they need to be out of harm’s way,” she said. “We can set it up.”

McMaster said there aren’t many safe shelter homes in Valemount and they could use more.

“It’s a struggle to get people to commit homes. We have a lot of protocols in place to ensure everyone’s safety,” she said.

McMaster said she canvassed establishments in Valemount to ensure people knew about the program.

“All the people [I spoke to] were saying they knew about it,” she said.

This article has not been vetted with the Robson Valley Support Society.