FORT ST. JOHN -- The Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society is reporting a spike in the number of people seeking help.

Clients accessed support for the non-profit’s outreach and client services over 14,000 times in 2023, representing a 10 per cent increase from the year prior.

Melody Hafner of the Women’s Resource Society says that number could be higher, given the nature of check-in process in some circumstances.

Over 1400 people turned to the society looking for family and poverty law legal aid, leading to a backlog in open cases.

They also handed out over 17,000 harm reduction items, including 206 Naloxone kits, training 12 people in how to administer the overdose prevention treatment.

The society’s “Skye’s Place” program was at capacity, assisting 12 mothers and 27 children who are fleeing violence through therapy and counselling support with the assistance of an experienced trauma specialist.

Hafner, a poverty law advocate, said the support wasn’t just extended to those within Fort St. John but outlining areas including Taylor, and remote First Nations communities.

As to what is leading to the increase, Hafner says, “it’s a combination of things” including the rising cost of living, increasing mental health challenges, and a lack of community resources.

The organization made investments in technology to support client needs, and expanded into two locations on 96th Avenue in Fort St. John to better differentiate its services and increase the privacy of those seeking assistance.