FAQs

How do I make an appointment with a counselor?
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)

Emergency Shelter

How can I access SOWINS services?

To access our Transition House contact our 24-hour number Ph 250-493-7233 or Toll Free Number 1-8000-814-2033.

  • If you are in a crisis contact our 24-hour Crisis Line 250-493-7233 or Toll Free Number 1-800-814-2033.
  • If you need to make an appointment with a counsellor contact 250-493-4366 or drop by our office (102-1027 Westminster Ave West, Penticton) Monday to Friday from 9am to noon during our walk-in times. Our services are free and confidential, no referral necessary.
How long can I stay at the Transition House?

You may stay up to thirty days.

How much does it cost to stay at the Transition House?

There is no charge to stay at the Transition House.

How safe will I be at the Emergency Shelter?

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

Do I have to share a room with anyone else at the Emergency Shelter?

No. Many clients are unsure what to expect when they arrive at the Emergency Shelter, thinking it is set up in a hostel style of format. It is not.

As a client of the Emergency Shelter, you are provided with an individual room with a bed, nightstand, closet and full private bathroom. We recognize that privacy is an important part of the journey beyond trauma. There is a grand room, community space and large, well-equipped kitchen.

Can I bring our pet dog or cat to the Transition House?

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.

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?
Yes, Transition House will assist with all forms of abuse.
I am not a Canadian Citizen, can my children and I still come to the Emergency Shelter?

Yes, the Emergency Shelter is open to any woman and her children fleeing abuse.

Do I have to report the abuse to the police before I can come to the Emergency Shelter?

No, reporting to the police is not a requirement for accessing the Emergency Shelter.

How do I make my home available as a safe home?
Please click here to learn more about our safe home program eligibility and participation.
What happens to me after the safe home?
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.
How will I find affordable housing when I leave the Emergency Shelter?

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.

What credentials do I need to work at SOWINS?
Credentials and experience are dependant 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.

Volunteering with SOWINS

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

The first step is to contact us at 250-493-4366 ext 105 or email volcoord@sowins.com to set up an appointment. We also post volunteer jobs on our website and Facebook page.

Can I volunteer at SOWINS if I have been a client?
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. To inquire about volunteering with SOWINS, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at 250-493-4366 ext. 105.
What kinds of volunteer jobs are at SOWINS?

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.

Are there volunteer forms to 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.

I have a previous criminal record. Can I still volunteer with SOWINS?
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.
What are the typical steps to become 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.
I only want to volunteer for special events. Is that okay?
Yes! We have many volunteers that help us out at certain times of the year or for special events, over the holidays, or one off events.  Contact us at 250-493-4366 ext 105 for more information.
If I don’t like my volunteer role can I change it?
Yes. We want our volunteers to be happy in the time that they spend with SOWINS. We have many areas to volunteer and switching roles is okay. You need to have another interview, background check or certain skill set depending on the job.
Can I use my volunteer experience with SOWINS on my resume?
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.

Other Questions

How is SOWINS Funded?

Fundraising, grants and donations

Demand for SOWINS programs and services exceed supply. Additional funding for these is sought through various grant applications, fundraising activities and donations. To donate to SOWINS, please click here.

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 per cent of the actual operating costs of the services contracted.

Sub-Contracts

SOWINS subcontracts with the YMCA of 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.

How do I know if I am eligible for the healing and life skills services?
Please call Priscilla at (250) 493-4366 ext. 117 or the YMCA WorkBC Employment Services Centre (250) 770-5627 to inquire.
What qualifications do your counselors have?

Our counsellors have a range of education and certifications including:

  • BSW (Bachelor of Social Work)
  • MSW (Master of Social Work)
  • RSW (Registered Social Worker)
  • RCC (Registered Clinical Counsellor)
  • Plus specialized training and many years of experience working with abused women and children
How will I afford a lawyer?
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.
My mother has addiction issues and needs counseling, can you help her?
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.)
My mother will not leave the abusive relationship she is in, will you please remove her?
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.
My husband / partner needs counseling, will you see him? / Can we come for counseling together?
No, we do not offer couples or marriage counselling. 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.
Do you provide a training allowance for your healing and life skill workshops?
No, we do not.
Do you provide food vouchers?
Not as a general rule, however, some lunch tickets are given to those who are participating in our all day programs.
Do you provide transportation to and from appointments
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 .
Do you provide bus tickets?
Not as a general rule; however, some bus tickets are given to those who are participating in our programs.
How do I donate clothing to the individuals you serve?

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.

Need support? Contact us.

Counselling Office: 250-493-7233

24 Hour Crisis Line: 1-800-814-2033