Story by: Kayla Kreutzberg
Photo from: OPP West Region
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) West Region has donated over 200 surplus cell phones to 11 Victim Services agencies across Southwestern Ontario.
Executive director for Victim Services Wellington Elizabeth Kent, said they received 20 of those phones and the donation takes some pressure off their agency.
“We have a program called the Victim Quick Response Program (VQRP) where we can provide cell phones to victims that have safety concerns, so that’s a great program if people qualify for it and they’re eligible,” Kent said. “We always have clients that aren’t eligible for that program, so now when we don’t have people that are eligible we have phones to give these people, so it takes some of the pressure off.”
She said there have been plenty of times where the agency has provided human trafficking victims with a cell phone.
“They lose the cell phone, or somebody takes the cell phone, or it gets stolen and we can’t replace that cell phone under the VQRP, so this again will allow us to give them another phone that they can have access to without anybody occurring any costs,” Kent said.
Kent said a cell phone ensures that a victim or a vulnerable person will have a means of communication to ensure their ongoing access to support services, referrals and medical care as needed.
She said people often take for granted the stuff they have such as a cell phone, where it’s a luxury to have one, even though it’s not seen as one because nowadays it’s seen as a necessity.
“For example, if you have a victim of a crime and they don’t have a cell phone, how do the police get in touch with them, how do other agencies get in touch with them, how do they get in touch with other agencies?” Kent said. “If there’s no way to communicate because they don’t have a cell phone, so this really prevents that isolation.”
Kent said the donated cell phones will also support a victims’ safety plan and lessen re-victimization by helping to prevent isolation, and they will also support their clients who may not have access to or may not be able to safely use their own.
She adds the OPP West Region identified a need within all 11 agencies and are making a difference with their donation.