VERNON - A longtime gap in services for women struggling with addictions in Vernon is about to be filled.
Next month, Bill’s Place, an addictions recovery home for men, will start accepting women for the first time since it was established in 2013.
Previously, women seeking help with their addictions faced costly fees for private recovery facilities and often had to travel as far as the Lower Mainland to get help.
“It’s always been a challenge with such limited resources for women in Vernon. We are very excited to provide this greatly needed service,” co-executive director of the John Howard Society of the North Okanagan Kelly Fehr says.
The average price for a privately run facility, according to Fehr, is roughly $10,000 to $15,000 a month. The fee is much lower at Bill’s Place — about $1,800 a month for those who can pay it— and the non-profit ensures no one is turned away due to finances. Those on income assistance are eligible to have their recovery costs paid for by the provincial government.
“Our goal has always been to provide services for people who are marginalized or on fixed incomes,” Fehr says.
The shortfall of women’s services has often been bemoaned by outreach workers in Vernon and Fehr says the society has been working since 2010 to develop more resources for women. Before now, the only other facility operated by the John Howard Society that took women was the Gateway Shelter.
With funding now secured, Bill’s Place will start accepting women who are ready to tackle their addictions beginning Oct. 1.
Addictions Services Manager Brad Houghton says men and women will have separate living quarters at Bill’s Place, but will do much of the program together.
“It will add a whole new element and depth to the conversation,” Houghton says of having women in the room.
Bill’s Place has space for 19 people at any given time and is forced to tell people on a monthly basis that there is no room for them at the moment. In the past two days, for example, Houghton has received inquiries from about eight people. There is only room for one.
“We need to expand,” Fehr says. “We are bursting at the seams.”
Bill’s Place is based on the 12 Step recovery model, but incorporates many other approaches as well.
“We’re not going to pass around a liver in a jar and say this is what will happen to you. Fear is a terrible motivator,” Houghton says. “We look at the symptoms, just like any other illness, and we focus on those.”
Donations to Bill’s Place are graciously accepted and can be made online. If you are interested in attending Bill’s Place, or would like to inquire for a friend or family member, call 250-542-3555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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