Grant seeks to stem influx of COVID-19-related violence against women

GUELPH – A $100,000 grant from the Safer and Stronger Grants program of the Canadian Women’s Foundation will help women in situations of gender-based violence who live here.

Family Counselling and Support Services for Guelph-Wellington (FCSSGW) and Victim Services Wellington (VSW) will use the funds to together, to help address, prevent, and reduce gender-based violence in Guelph-Wellington.

The funding comes from the government of Canada and the department of women and gender equality.

Gender-based violence has become a second pandemic during COVID-19 that is affecting women and girls identifying, trans, Two Spirit, and non-binary peoples most profoundly, officials say.

Also called domestic violence because it often occurs within the home, gender-based violence includes intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and emotional, child, and elder abuse.

“The forced isolation of the pandemic combined with mental health issues, job loss, and changes in family routines means women are at home with their abusers more often. With limited opportunities to be out of the house or to let people know they need help, situations may become dire,” said FCSSGW manager, mental health services Benjamin Hesch.

“The introduction of secure virtual services allows our registered therapists to reach women trapped at home. At the same time, we have therapists on-site to accommodate women who cannot talk to us safely where they live.”

The funding is expected to be distributed by the end of February to help agencies prepare and equip themselves to manage the expected caseloads and expand their service capabilities accordingly.

“Victim Services Wellington believes every victim has the right to heal. Our services create opportunities to heal, foster hope, and promote a safer and healthier community,” said Elizabeth Kent, executive director of Victim Services Wellington.

“Our organization’s success depends upon our relationships with community stakeholders, and this grant is a perfect demonstration.

“For us to be able to offer our clients funded psychotherapy in a timely, seamless manner is amazing and couldn’t come at a better time.”

Anyone requiring gender-based violence support can contact FCSSGW at 519-824-2431 or Victim Services Wellington at 519-824-1212.

FCSSGW provides a range of individual and group services to children, youth, individuals, couples, families, and seniors. It is also LGBTQ+ friendly with safe, accessible storefront locations in Guelph, Fergus, Mount Forest and Harriston.

Visit to find out more about the agency’s programs and services.