A new resource for women with disabilities and their caregivers is coming to the Ashcroft/Cache Creek area.
Pacific Dawn (DisAbled Women’s Network) has been in operation for 15 years, providing support for women in B.C. and the Yukon who face unique challenges because of their disabilities.
Terry Tyab, who has been the Pacific Dawn Chair for the last three years and is also a facilitator for group meetings, was at the Ashcroft HUB in spring 2019 for a series of support group meetings, and now—thanks to funding from the Red Cross—is able to hold weekly meetings at the HUB starting on Sept. 19 and continuing through spring 2020.
Tyab says the group was founded because of the fact that women with disabilities were not considered as having special needs,.
“One of the big things we help with is violence against women with disabilities. We like to have someone from Victim Services and a female police officer come and talk to our groups about violence against women and help with basic self-defence. It helps with low self-esteem. A lot of women with disabilities feel that they’re lucky they’ve got someone, even though they’re being abused.
“Ending violence is a big thing we focus on too.”
She says that Pacific Dawn offers resources for people with different kinds of disabilities. “Our website links to stuff from all sorts of different manufacturers that make life easier for people with disabilities, such as appliances and phones.”
Pacific Dawn also offers support groups which meet regularly in different communities. Tyab says they’ve been trying to set one up in the Ashcroft/Cache Creek area, and that the spring 2019 sessions were to see if that would fly in the area.
“The response was pretty good, and made us think there was a need here. It also helped when I applied for the [Red Cross] grant, to show there was a need for this sort of thing.”
She says that people help each other during the meetings. “Someone might know a particular business that treats people with disabilities as special, whereas some businesses just kind of brush you off.
“People share their stories and ask for advice, and the questions and the advice sought really vary. During the last weeks of a group, if there’s a particular subject people want to know more about I do the research and bring it with me. We also have pamphlets and booklets to give out, completely free.”
The meetings are open to all women with disabilities, and Tyab says people are never asked what their disability is.
“It’s only if they want to volunteer that information. I not only have what some people see as a major physical disability, I also struggle with depression. People don’t need to be specific. It can be physical or mental or both.”
She adds that meetings are also open to caregivers of women with disabilities. “They know a lot of what these women go through, so it’s support for them too. Women end up helping each other.”
The meetings will take place every Thursday 1 p.m. at the HUB starting on Sept. 19, and Tyab says the first few meetings will be looking at the 2017 wildfires and allowing participants to talk about their experiences, but that other things can be discussed as well. Each meeting lasts about 2.5 hours with a refreshment break, and there is no charge.
Although pre-registration is helpful in knowing how many people to expect, Tyab says people are free to drop by. For more information, or to preregister, contact the HUB at (250) 453-9177 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; contact Tyab at email@example.com; call 1-778-412-9622; or visit the website at www.pacificdawn.ca.