The Oak Child and Youth Advocacy Centre in Vernon is urging residents of the North Okanagan to learn more about its services, spread the word and take action.
The centre works closely with community partners to increase safety and provide services to children, youth and their families.
It is a safe space where people 18 and younger who have experienced or witnessed abuse or violence can receive the support they need.
Oak Centre offers children and youth a safe and comfortable environment to be interviewed by police and social workers, eliminating the need to attend different agencies and offices for multiple interviews, which helps to simplify the reporting process and prevent additional trauma for victims.
“Once a child, youth and family are connected to us we work with all the relevant organizations to ensure that the child and family are receiving the support they require,” says Brooke McLardy, Oak Centre’s manager.
Abuse and violence against children and youth can take many forms including physical, sexual and emotional abuse which can be perpetuated by adults or peers.
After school closures in 2020, Oak Centre saw an alarming influx of reports. Since then, cases of abuse and violence against children and youth have become increasingly complex.
“Caregivers and children are dealing with a decline in mental health and overall capacity during these difficult times which makes healing after abuse more complicated, requiring a holistic and nimble response,” says McLardy.
The centre is urging residents of the North Okanagan to spread awareness about its services, take action when needed, and make donations through its parent organization, Archway Society for Domestic Peace.
Oak Centre is also encouraging youth and children who have experienced or witnessed abuse or violence to reach out to receive the help they need.
“We see more and more youth reaching out to us either through their school counsellor, another helper or directly. We work with young people to make informed choices about what to do and connect them to the supports they need,” says McLardy.
To contact Oak Child and Youth Advocacy Centre for more information, fill out the form on the website or call the child and youth service co-ordinator at 778-475-2920.
To learn more about other supportive services available for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in the North Okanagan, visit Archway Society for Domestic Peace.