“The Food Bank is not what we are; we offer so much more,” says Yoriko Susanj, Executive Director of the South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society (SCEFS). She acknowledges that the Food Bank is the most public of the SCEFS programs, but adds that the Society offers a wide variety of programs for those living in the Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Spences Bridge, and Walhachin areas.
The Nobody’s Perfect parenting program is run when there is funding available, and Susanj says it’s being run next at the Cook’s Ferry Indian Band office in Spences Bridge starting on April 5.
The program is a support group for parents of children aged 0 to five years, where people can meet with and speak to other parents about struggles they’re having, as well as receive advice and support from trained facilitators. The series of three workshops is open to anyone in the area, with lunch and childcare provided.
Programs for youth include the School-Based Mental Health Prevention and the Case Aid for Youth programs. The former provides a Case Aid worker for youth who are on probation, with the worker on-call 24/7 to ensure that all conditions are being met, and that the youth attends meetings and goes to school.
The school-based program has a worker going into classroom settings to do ministry-approved, evidence-based programs about mental health. Any interested teachers can sign up for the program.
“Stress and anxiety are big subjects,” says Susanj. “There’s also a prevention/intervention component to the program.”
Breaking Barriers to Employment is a referral-based service run in conjunction with Work BC. “If Work BC has a client with a barrier to gaining employment, he or she will be referred to the SCEFS for one-to-one or group workshops.”
Family Support Worker (FSW) Sherry Anderson will support any client who comes to the office. “Some people need help applying for social assistance or pensions, which only takes one or two sessions,” says Susanj. “But the FSW also helps couples with communications issues, or family budgeting. And lots of parents come in wanting help in communicating with their children, especially teens. It’s a very client-centred service; it’s there for whatever the need is.”
The Society can help with filling out the forms for Legal Aid applications, while the Children Who Witness Abuse program is there for children aged three to eighteen. “We meet with the child and the non-offending parent when things are stable. We deal with everything from children who are being bullied at school to those who have seen domestic abuse within their house. Whatever their situation, we’re there with support to help them sort through the emotional baggage they’ve been through, so they can be healthy.”
The SCEFS also runs RCMP Victim Service Programs through the Clinton and Ashcroft detachments. “It’s for anyone who’s the victim of any crime. We help seniors who are victims of fraud,” says Susanj, noting that with income tax season here there has been an increase in Canada Revenue Agency phone scams. “And in the case of sudden death, we’re there for the next of kin.”
All services offered by the South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society are free of charge. For more information about any of them, drop by the office at 601 Bancroft Street in Ashcroft (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to noon and 1:00 to 4:30pm), call (250) 453-9656, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.