Vancouver, BC – When Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Sheway—a pregnancy outreach program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside—later this month, Karen Starr will have a front row seat. “It never crossed my mind that I would have the opportunity to be in the presence of the royal couple,” says Karen. “My world is so different, but I’m excited that they want to hear stories about struggle and addiction.”
Karen’s story involves a dysfunctional childhood, drug and alcohol use, mental and physical abuse, and suicidal thoughts. She reached out to Sheway when she was 17 and pregnant with her first child. “Sheway was the family I never had. The staff never judged me, they treated me with respect and taught me how to be a parent,” says Karen.
Sheway provides health and social service supports to pregnant women and mothers who are dealing with drug and alcohol issues. It’s operated by Vancouver Coastal Health in partnership with the BC Government, Vancouver Native Health Society and the YWCA of Vancouver.
“Sheway has embraced a woman centred, harm reduction, trauma informed model of care for the last 23 years. The integration between the four partners, along with Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society, is integral to how Sheway is able to truly affect change for the women and children we serve,” says Laura Case, Chief Operating Officer, Vancouver Community, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).
Sheway is a Coast Salish word meaning “growth.” Using the tools she acquired at Sheway, Karen Starr has grown into a stronger, more independent woman. She is now the mother of four children, two of whom will be by her side when she meets Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on September 25th. “Without Sheway, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” says Karen. “They reached out for me when I couldn’t reach out for myself. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to raise awareness and the possibilities that exist because of Sheway.”
- Daily hot lunches
- Weekly food bags
- Nutrition counselling and prenatal vitamins
- Grocery store food/milk coupons
- Practical support for securing medical care, housing, advocacy and social benefits
- Prenatal and postnatal care
- Child and adult immunizations
- Parenting support
- Alcohol and drug counselling
- STD/HIV counselling and testing
- Baby food, formula, diapers, clothes and toys, when available.
As part of the Second Generation Strategy
, Vancouver Coastal Health and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) are committed to providing culturally sensitive programs and services for women on the Downtown Eastside. Protecting, serving and empowering women like Karen, is what our teams do on a daily basis.
Vancouver Coastal Health is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
Public Affairs Officer
Vancouver Coastal Health