Kamloops reintroduces sexual assault response team after 13-year hiatus
Team of 14 volunteers offers immediate support at Royal Inland Hospital, including new clothing for survivors
A crisis service that offers immediate support to sexual assault survivors has returned to Kamloops, 13 years after its funding was cut.
The Sexual Assault Response Team dispatches volunteers within a half-hour to sexual assault survivors who visit the Royal Inland Hospital.
Pairs of volunteers attend victims as they wait for a doctor, speak to law enforcement and undergo a forensic exam. The team also connects survivors to community and legal sources.
Funding for the service was eliminated more than 13 years ago, said Charlene Eden, the agency coordinator for the Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre.
"When I came on board two years ago, our organization recognized that this would need to be a priority," Eden said on CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.
The city's social planning council gave the Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre a $10,000 grant to fund the team for the year. The centre will need to reapply for funding each year.
The city "sees that sexualized violence needs to be put on the community table and that our survivors in Kamloops need to be supported," Eden said.
Part of the response team's services include "comfort cases" — a new set of clothing for survivors whose clothes may be taken away for evidence.
"The other reality is, a lot of times, survivors don't necessarily want to be in the clothes they were assaulted in," Eden said.
The team is currently staffed with 14 volunteers and only offers services on weekends but is recruiting more volunteers to expand.
With files from CBC's Daybreak Kamloops