The calls aren't coming into Big Hill Haven and that's concerning for the Intensive Case Manager. 

Patti Fisher says they're not seeing what they anticipated they'd see during these stressful times of financial worries and families stuck at home together in isolation. 

"That's contingent certainly on people knowing how to get a hold of us but it also is a signal that the women who are in these situations possibly can't get to a phone or can't get to a computer or can't reach out for help. Chances are real good if there's domestic violence in the home that this isolation is increasing the danger."

Fisher says anyone who is faced with immediate danger needs to reach out.

"If it's immediate danger call 911. That's just cut and dry and the RCMP will attend and they will do whatever is necessary. They will likely connect the client with Victim Services and Victim Services usually contacts me, so that's usually the process."

"If there's not immediate danger and the woman chooses to reach out for help while staying in that situation they can call our outreach line or they can do a live chat with us on our website. But the best thing is to call the outreach line which is 403-796-6564 and talk to me and I'll help assess what's going on and we'll go from there."

The primary thing Fisher will do is she will make a plan on how to keep women safe. 

"We have a couple of options that we can do where we can actually place women for up to 30 days if need be. We have a funder who wishes to remain anonymous and that funder is actually giving us dedicated funding to do that so in the emergency situations we can take a woman out of a situation and get her into safe and confidential housing."

It's clear there's an immediate need for a shelter in Cochrane.

Fisher says "In a year I deal with 90 women. And obviously not all of those women need shelter immediately but less than five per cent of women who need shelter or need that assistance, get that assistance. It takes generally eight times before a woman leaves a situation and there's all kinds of complicated reasons for that."

"Currently I have to say them 'Well, I don't have a place for you - you know', I have a short-term place but I don't have anything where you can stay long-term and really 30 days is not very long, it's just enough time to get calmed down and start to feel safe."

Fisher says during this pandemic she is not meeting with clients face-to-face but she is very much available to help through the chat line or on the outreach line. 

Big Hill Haven Women's Emergency Shelter was established in 2018 to provide support, resources, and emergency shelter to women and families suffering from domestic violence in the community. 

Fundraising is ongoing so a physical shelter can be built in Cochrane. 

Big Hill Haven emergency shelter services remain open during the pandemic. 

Big Hill Haven is here ready and prepared to help.