British Columbia

Battered Women Support Services asks for more volunteers amid COVID-19 pandemic

Battered Women's Support services is asking for more crisis line volunteers, saying the number of calls has risen by 300 per cent, with more people staying at home and more women being exposed to domestic violence because of it.

The group says the number of domestic violence calls are up 300 per cent and more help is needed

Battered Women Support Services is looking for volunteers who will receive free training in answering calls and acting as a gateway to other services such as legal help and counselling. (AFP via Getty Images)

Battered Women's Support services is asking for more crisis line volunteers, saying the number of calls has risen by 300 per cent, with more people staying at home and more women being exposed to domestic violence because of it.

Executive director Angela Marie MacDougall said the group is looking for another 20 volunteers to build its team to 70 people.

The group is accepting volunteer applications for its Violence Prevention and Intervention Training Program which starts on Sept. 18 for shifts that run during the day, afternoon and overnight.

MacDougall said the group receives about 18,000 calls annually but it's a lot more this year due to the pandemic.

"When COVID-19 hit back in March we scaled up our crisis line to be 24/7. Since then, calls to our crisis line have increased by up to 300 per cent."

MacDougall says 40 per cent of callers are contacting them for the first time.

"That has really overloaded our team, and so we're looking for more volunteer support to help cover shifts and to take calls from victims of domestic violence."

MacDougall said help has been forthcoming in other ways. She explained a hotel owner in Metro Vancouver has offered to help women and children in need with a place to stay if a transition house isn't found for them.

"We had the privilege of receiving support from a local hotel owner in Vancouver, a very beautiful hotel, and they've offered us a floor of rooms where we have been supporting women and children."

She said a free training program is provided to volunteers to help them understand violence and oppression against women and girls in relationships.

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