The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre will continue to operate its call and text crisis line to ensure 24-hour access, which is not available from a similar, new provincial service.
On Monday, the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services announced the new talk-text-chat line called One Line — at 1-866-403-8000 — which is available seven days a week, but only from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Patricia Arango, executive director of the central Alberta centre, said at times, there are more people accessing the central Alberta line at night.
“Nights and weekends, we have support from volunteers. We have 65 volunteers from the community very well trained,” Arango said.
The central Alberta support centre, based in Red Deer, also has a 24-hour web chat program.
The Red Deer centre has offered 24-hour call, texting and web chat access for three years — at 1-866-956-1099 — and was the first program of its kind in Canada.
“I’m very proud we were the only one for such a long time. We’ll keep doing what we’re doing. It’s a very good way for people to reach for help.”
She said as pioneers, the Red Deer centre helped train and provide support for the provincial initiative, and both services will work together.
The Red Deer line may get busier if people turn to it when One Line is not available, Arango said.
The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services has said that Alberta’s #IBelieveYou campaign and #MeToo movement dramatically increased demand for support services.
Arango said younger generations have a tendency to communicate via texting, and older generations are also relying more on texting, so providing that option works well.
May is Sexual Violence Awareness Month and May 24 is Respect Day in Red Deer, with a community event at City Hall Park from noon to 3 p.m., with music, dancing, information booths and a by-donation barbecue.
On May 31, The Power of Collaboration: A Collective Forum, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Baymont by Wyndham featuring a panel of professionals and survivors of crime, a speaker, and breakout sessions in the afternoon.