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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I make an appointment with a counselor?

A: Please call (250) 493-4366 and ask for outreach  – or call Sheila at ext. 103, Donna at ext. 104 (Mature Women’s Outreach) or Kelly at ext. 107 (Community Outreach and Family Law assistance)

Q: Do you provide bus tickets?

A: Not as a general rule; however, some bus tickets are given to those who are participating in our programs

Q: Do you provide food vouchers?

A: Not as a general rule; however, some lunch tickets  are given to those who are participating in our all day  programs.

Q: Do you provide a training allowance for your healing and Life skill workshops?

A: No we do not

Q:  What qualifications do your counselors have?

A: BSW, MSW, RSW, RCC, plus specialized training and many years  experience working with abused women and children.

Q: How do I donate clothing to the women you serve?

A: At this time SOWINS is unable to accept donations of gently used items – including clothing. We are only able to accept new items.

There are many excellent not for profits in our community that SOWINS clients frequent. This includes:

  • The Vineyard Church Free Store
  • The Care Closet
  • Salvation Army
  • IODE Thrift Shop

Please consider donating your gently used items to these organizations.

Q: How do I start up a safe home?

A: Link to safe homes

Q: How do I know if I am eligible for the healing and Life skills services?

A: Please call Priscilla at (250) 493-4366 ext. 117 or the YMCA WorkBC Employment Services Centre (250) 770-5627 to inquire.

Q: How safe will I be at the Transition House?

A: The Transition House is staffed 24/7 and provides enhanced security features to help ensure your safety.

Q: Who gives SOWINS most of its funding?

A: Ministry Contracts

Transition House and Safe Home Programs receive core funding from BC Housing – Women’s Transition Housing and Supports.  Children Who Witness Abuse and Community Outreach programs receive core funding from the Ministry of Justice – Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division.

Funding responsibilities are outlined in Service Agreements between SOWINS and the Ministry involved.  The core Ministry funding covers about 70% of the actual operating costs of the services contracted.


SOWINS subcontracts with the YMCA Okanagan and Open Door Group to provide specialized employment readiness services for women who have been abused.  Funding is provided based on services rendered and the number of women served.

Fundraising and other activities

Additional funding is sought through various grant applications, fundraising activities and donations.


Q: Can I volunteer at SOWINS if I have been a client?

A: Yes, you can although we will often ask you to volunteer in an area where you were not a client – e.g. special events. There may also be a waiting to period between when you were a client and when it is best for you to volunteer.

All potential volunteers meet with the Volunteer Coordinator and go through the screening process with may include a criminal record check with the Ministry of Justice.

Q: What credentials do I need to work at SOWINS?

A: It depends on the position.  Read each job posting carefully to determine whether you possess the required qualifications.

Applicants for Women’s Support positions require a diploma such as Human Service Worker or Social Service Worker (or equivalent) and two years of recent related experience with women who are overcoming the experience of abuse in a residential setting.

Q: Is SOWINS unionized?

A: The staff at SOWINS are covered by the General Services Collective Agreement between Community Social Services Employers’ Association (CSSEA) and Community Social Service Bargaining Association of Unions (CSSBA).  SOWINS employees are members of Health Sciences Association of BC (H.S.A.)

Q: How do I apply?

A: Each job posting will include information on how to apply.  We prefer applications by email to

Q: How often do you hire?

A: We only hire when jobs are available.  When there are jobs externally available, they are posted on the website, on Castanet and in the Western News Advertiser.

Q: How much does it cost to stay at the Transition House?
A: There is no charge to stay at the Transition House.

Q: I am not a Canadian Citizen, can my children and I still come to the Transition House?

A: Yes, the Transition House service is open to any woman and her children fleeing abuse.

Q: Can I bring our pet dog and cat to the Transition House?

A: We do not accept pets at the Transition House. However, we can assist with finding short term placement for dogs and cats.  Guide dogs and companion dogs with a valid certificate will accepted at the Transition House.

Q: How long can I stay at the Transition House?

A: You may stay up to thirty days.

Q: My partner does not hit me but takes all my money and stops me from seeing family and friends, can I still come to the Transition House?

A: Yes, Transition House will assist with all forms of abuse.

Q: Do I have to report the abuse to the police before I can come to the Transition House?

A: No, reporting to the police is not a requirement for accessing Transition House service.

Q: How can I access the Transition House?

A: You may call our 24 hour crisis line  (250) 493-7233, Toll Free 1-800-814-2033 or email:


Q: I want to volunteer with SOWINS. How do I get started?

A: The first step is to contact the coordinator of marketing & volunteers at 250-493-4366 ext 105 or email to set up an appointment. We also post volunteer jobs on our website and Facebook page.

Q: What kinds of volunteer jobs are at SOWINS?

A: At this time there is volunteer opportunities for special projects and events. Our special event jobs can cover event planning, cooking, sewing, collecting donations, packing holiday hampers, and information booth sitting.

We are seeking volunteer support for:

  • WE: Project – share what you love with the clients of SOWINS (ongoing)
  • Walk a Mile in Her Shoes South Okanagan (June/July)
  • Share the Spirit – hamper days, donation room & holiday party (Nov/Dec)

We also have positions available on our Board of Directors. If you would like to make a deeper commitment to SOWINS, perhaps that is the volunteer job for you.

Q: Is there an interview?

A: Yes. All volunteers are interviewed by the coordinator of marketing & volunteers or another SOWINS staff member before they are given a volunteer job.

Q: Are there forms to fill out?

A: Yes. There are two forms that all volunteers fill out and a third form that some volunteers fill out:

  1. Volunteer Application Form: This form is for your references and contact information and helps us get to know you better.
  2. Ethical Conduct & Confidentiality Form: This form is an agreement between SOWINS and you and says that we will treat each other with fairness and respect. Because of the sensitive work that we do at SOWINS we also need to protect the privacy of our clients. This form says that all volunteers agree to protect the clients of SOWINS privacy as well.
  3. Criminal Record Review: This is for volunteers who will work in contact with SOWINS clients, in our office, or in any job that could be sensitive for our clients. The form is filled out in person or online, is free and confidential. The CRRP is a processed through the Ministry of Justice.

If you need help filling out your volunteer application forms the coordinator of marketing & volunteers help you.

Q: I have a previous criminal record. Can I still volunteer with SOWINS? 

A: The Ministry of Justice reviews volunteer application on a case by case basis. If you know that your criminal record check will come back with a flag, let the coordinator of volunteers know in advance. We encourage volunteers to go through the CRRP process as an adjudicator will discuss your previous history with you and can assist you in your pursuit of volunteering.

If it is determined that SOWINS is not the appropriate place for you to volunteer, we encourage you to reach out the South Okanagan Volunteer Center as they will have other places that may be a better match.

Q: What are the typical steps for becoming a volunteer with SOWINS? 

A: The typical steps for becoming a volunteer with SOWINS:

  1. Contact the coordinator of volunteer and set up a interview
  2. At the interview the coordinator of volunteers will tell you about the positions available at SOWINS – both current and upcoming. They will also talk about what it is like to volunteer with SOWINS and also what is expected of the volunteers.
  3. At this point both you and the volunteer coordinator will know if volunteering with SOWINS is right for you or not.
    1. If it is the right choice you will be given the volunteer application forms for the next stage.
    2. If it is not the right choice we will thank you for thinking of SOWINS and direct you to the Volunteer Centre for other opportunities.
  1. Once you have completed and returned to our office the volunteer application form, the ethical and confidentiality form we will review your application and contact your references.
  2. Once we have accepted you to join our volunteer team you will be given a Volunteer Manual.
  3. Depending on the position a Criminal Record Review check with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) may also be needed. The MOJ is the final work on whether SOWINS can accept a volunteer or not.

Q: I only want to volunteer for special events. Is that okay?

A: Yes! We have many volunteers that help us out only at certain times of the year or for special events, over the holidays, or one off events.  Contact the coordinator of marketing & volunteers for more information.

Q: If I don’t like my volunteer job can I change it? 

A: Yes. We want our volunteers to be happy in the time that they spend with SOWINS. We have many areas to volunteer and switching jobs is okay. You need to have another interview, background check or certain skill set depending on the job.

Q: Can I use my volunteer experience with SOWINS on my resume?

A: Yes! Volunteering is an excellent way to increase your skill sets and also to avoid having gaps in your resume when you are between jobs. SOWINS can provide you with a letter of reference or act as a reference on your resume.

Q: Do you pay moving expenses?

A: No, unfortunately we don’t pay moving expenses but we have a list of movers and can provide their phone numbers.

Q: Do you provide transportation to and from appointments?

A: No, we do not provide a transportation service to and from scheduled, regular  appointments like doctors, dentist, grocery shopping etc, but as part of our outreach program we can provide accompaniment  to government agencies and other community services if the clients situation requires advocacy .

Q: Do you provide or find affordable  housing?

A: No, we do not provide or find affordable housing, but we can help with BC Housing forms, SAFER forms and list of BC Housing.

Q: What happens to me after the safe home?

A: Depending on your circumstance you may placed in a safe home as part of your  safety plan while leaving an abusive relationship. You may stay in a safe home for an average of 10 days, during  that time more  permanent housing should be sought out and arranged.

Q: How will I find affordable housing when I leave the safe home?

A: Your options will be explored. For example, do you qualify for BC Housing or SAFER?  You may also be referred to other community or government agencies who can assist you more in this area.  However; affordable housing does remain a great  challenge.

Q: How will I afford a lawyer?

A: If you can’t afford a lawyer, and you have left an abusive relationship  you may qualify for legal aid. Our Community Outreach Support worker can help you with information.

Q: My mother has addiction issues and needs counseling, can you help her?

A: Our mandate is abuse, if your mother is in an abusive situation  it will be looked into. However; if this is strictly an addiction issue your mother will be referred to another community service who specializes in addictions (such as Pathways.)

Q: My mother will not leave the abusive relationship she is in, will you please remove her?

A: We cannot remove your mother from her situation against her will, if she is compliant and wants  to be removed from her abusive situation we can help her. If she is resistant to moving out of her abusive situation and you have reason for great concern you will be referred to a government agency.

Q: My husband / partner needs counseling, will you see him? / Can we come  for counseling together?

A: No, we do not offer couples or marriage counseling. We are a society who’s mandate is in helping women in need. If you are in or have been in an abusive relationship or are wanting to leave an abusive relationship our counseling services are available to you. We will provide you with  information about resources that are available to your husband / partner.