The Surrey Anti-Gang Family Empowerment (SAFE) and the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR) were given the Community Impact Award by Kwantlen Polytechnic University last month for their positive impact in the community.
Both SAFE and NEVR work in partnerships with KPU who aim to limit violence in the community. The award recognizes “individuals and organizations who are strong partners of KPU and making a difference in regional communities of relevance to KPU,” said president Alan Davis in a media release.
SAFE was launched in 2019 to help deter youth and children from gangs and gang violence, and has 10 partners including KPU.
“It’s really about preventing and addressing youth gang involvement in Surrey. One of our overarching goals … is identifying and then rolling out tailored intervention plans that would be unique to each individual and their family,” says Brian Aasebo, City of Surrey’s community safety manager.
Intervention plans can include the individual’s family, and the purpose of it is to strengthen the youth’s connection with their family or the community, he says.
Some services include the Youth Hub for co-operative enterprise, a program for youth of newcomer families to start their own business and learn important skills. Counselling is provided through the SAFE community clinical counseling, and a peer leadership program where youth can participate in various recreational activities and receive mentorship.
Aasebo says winning the Community Impact Award recognizes the efforts given by everyone to ensure SAFE thrives.
“Winning the award [is] important because it lets the public know we have this really cool program that no one else has, and it’s motivating for the staff that put in so many hours into a difficult, emotionally taxing job,” Aasebo says.
NEVR, another recipient of the award, educates people on “physical, sexual, emotional, and financial” violence that can occur in relationships and how such violence can be removed from the community. In addition to romantic relationships, the program also discusses relationships between co-workers and families. The program is run by a group of volunteers.
Dr. Balbir Gurm, a KPU nursing instructor and founder of the NEVR program, says winning the award means the NEVR team can look forward to the change that will occur in the next decade.
“We’re trying to actually change societal attitudes, and it’s going to take all of us. So, the more exposure we have, the more people get involved … the greater the difference we can make,” Gurm says.
NEVR hosts workshops like the “violence intervention program” where people are taught to recognize violence, abuse, and how to safely step in. The workshop is about three hours long and also provides attendees with resources.
Gurm says the program’s association with the university helps in many ways, such as KPU providing technical support, and website and conference space. It also helps to expose students and staff members to NEVR as a whole and its resources.
“In relationship violence, sexual assault is one of the concerns on campuses, and we’re hoping that more and more students are aware and they can get in touch with us, and we can certainly help them connect with services,” Gurm says.
If any student wants to participate in the free violence intervention workshop, they can email NEVR@kpu.ca to register.
“We are here to listen and support if any student has any concerns about the broad aspect of relationship violence.”