LAO supports local YWCA initiative for women who have experienced abuse or violence

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Peterborough – Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has joined forces with a local YWCA initiative – the Support Team for Abuse Response Today (START) – to ensure that calls from START clients to LAO’s toll-free line move to the top of the queue for immediate support and services.

START is a year-long pilot that has been open every Monday (aside from statutory holidays) since Jan. 21, 2013 at the YWCA Peterborough, Victoria and Haliburton.

It provides women over the age of 16 who have experienced abuse or violence with a wide range of coordinated professional services – all at one central, welcoming location. So far, START has offered medical information, safety planning, counselling, court information and much more to 24 women in the first eight weeks of operation. It has also met its goal of serving about three women every day its doors have been open.

Multiple services in one place

“Most women who are victims of abuse or violence require multiple services, and don’t even know what they need, much less what services are available,” says Karine Rogers, coordinator of the START program.

“Here they can tell their story, in confidence, and only once, to our intake worker, and then go directly to the service provider they need for their most pressing issue, right off the bat. After that, we’ll introduce them to the service provider they need next. Our staff collaborate with one other, to ensure seamless service.”

Immediate help and a two-hour LAO certificate

According to Wendy Joy Bird, Director of LAO’s Durham-Frontenac District, initiatives like this are the most resource-efficient way for LAO to help this marginalized population.

“Women learn they can call our toll-free line for immediate advice, that they have the opportunity to apply for legal aid and that they can get a list of panel lawyers in this community who are willing to help them.

“In many cases, they will also qualify for our Family Violence Authorization program, which entitles them to a two-hour certificate.”

Participating service providers

  • City of Peterborough, social services
  • Community Counselling & Resource Centre
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Peterborough
  • Legal Aid Ontario
  • Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society
  • Victim Witness Assistance Program
  • Victim Services Peterborough & Northumberland
  • Women’s Health Care Centre – Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence program
  • YWCA – Family Court Support
  • YWCA – Crisis & support counselling / transition support
  • Peterborough Lakefield Community Police – Victim Services Unit

Contact information

START is at the Peterborough YWCA, 216 Simcoe St. Parking is free.

Phone: 705-743-3526.

For more information, including a list of participating services, call or visit the YWCA website.

Open every Monday (except for statutory holidays) from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., or call for an appointment.

LAO’s toll-free line is 1-800-668-8258 (or 416-979-1446 in Toronto). You can speak to a service person Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., in over 200 languages, to get legal aid services, assistance and information.


Feroneh Neil
Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Phone: 416-979-2352 ext. 5103