Durham Region’s Violence Prevention Coordinating Council (VPCC) brings together over 30 local organizations to pursue one common goal: preventing violence against women (VAW).
The Oshawa This Week has called violence against women in Durham Region a “crisis.” There were three local domestic homicides in 2017, and VAW shelters had to turn away over 1000 women. The paper quoted Wendy Leeder, Executive Director of YWCA Durham, which runs Y’s Wish shelter, as saying “The shelters are bursting at the seams.”
It’s against this backdrop that VPCC member organizations meet regularly to, among other things, find ways to build the system’s capacity to support women who are risk of or already victimized by domestic violence. By facilitating cross-sector collaboration among VAW shelters and organizations representing housing, legal, mental health, children’s, and culturally-appropriate services – to name only a few of the sectors represented – the VPCC helps each member organization increase its capacity to respond to client needs.
The VPCC also raises awareness of the issue throughout local communities. One example of this was their #loveshouldnthurt campaign, which last November kick-started a conversation on social media about violence against women. “With this campaign, we wanted to do something unique for Durham,” says VPCC Chair Bonnie Porter. “Now more than ever is the time to issue a strong call to action. We want to motivate whole communities to help prevent violence against women. We’re going to keep the conversation active with initiatives we have lined up throughout the year.”
Durham Mental Health Services’ (DMHS’) Durham East Program Manager Katie Sansom represents DMHS on the council. “I am proud to be a part of the VPCC in Durham Region,” Katie says. “Awareness of violence against women in Durham Region is an important topic and conversation to keep going. The #loveshouldnthurt campaign is helping to spread the word all year round, and DMHS is glad to be a part of it”.
Bonnie Porter adds, “It’s great that we have this network of organizations from so many different sectors coming together to improve our local response. At the same time, it’s not enough, when you look at how many women are being turned away from shelters and how many are reaching out for crisis support. We need our whole community to get actively involved.”
For more information about the VPCC and its work including the #loveshouldnthurt campaign, please visit www.vpccdurham.org.