New program helping first responders support victims of family violence

United Way Regina has launched a new training program that will help first responders support victims of family violence.

The ‘family violence initiative fund training’ will include six organizations collaborating in an expansive program with access to training on topics such as trauma informed care, abuse prevention, burnout prevention, and vicarious trauma prevention.

“Interpersonal violence is a very complex issue that requires a lot of collaboration to effectively address it, said Stacey Schwartz, donor relations specialist and community advancement for United Way Regina. “We’re in a unique position, where we’re able to collaborate with a variety of community stakeholders and sectors.”

Schwartz organized the collaborative training program; partnering with Caring Hearts, STOPS to Violence, Safe Places Swift Current, the RCMP F Division, and Beatrice Wallace/Wolfe to allow first responders, community agencies, and volunteers access to the free training program.

“What spearheaded this project, specifically, is we making sure that we could work with already existing organizations that are doing incredible work in this area,” said Schwartz. “And get it into front line workers and families that are in the family violence sector.”

The project is possible because of a grant provided by RCMP F Division. Schwartz believes that many people will be able to receive this much needed training now that cost is not a factor.

“It’s giving an opportunity for those that maybe in the past, their budget hasn’t allowed them to include some of this additional training, to have the opportunity for them to bring that in and support their staff as well as their clients that they’re serving.”

The involvement with the training opportunities is allowing many of the organizations to share their message and expand their respective programs outside the area that they directly serve.

“With great partnerships, in this instance, we’ve got reach throughout Saskatchewan, said Kelly Schafer, a manager at Safe Places Swift Current. “I think it’s good for us to show that beyond our community that were looking to promote the protection of youth.”

Dwayne Yasinowski, the director of education at Caring Hearts in Regina, is delighted with the collaborative program and glad that Caring Hearts can spread its expertise to more people.

“We’ve all been able to provide specific pieces to the training and to the project itself,” he said. “For example, part of what were providing is not only the education sessions on ambiguous loss and trauma informed care for frontline people but were also providing manuals and webinars that frontline people can access as well.”

Yasinowski also hopes that the collaborative model established by Schwartz and United Way Regina will catch on, and become more widespread across Canada.

“I really hope it does expand because the necessity is there,” he said. “The need is there and one agency can’t do this alone. It needs to be a collaboration. It needs to be a partnership with many agencies that all provide specific and unique services to families.”

Schwartz added that priority for the program, especially the trauma informed care component, was to ensure it was made available for Indigenous people.

“We want to dedicate 50 per cent of it to Indigenous serving agencies and well as First Nations communities, she said. “There needs to be appropriate resources for the communities and individuals that focus around Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. And we’re making sure that there are supports in place and that it’s easy to access them.”

The program is set to run through March 2022.