Help Save SARAH

On April 3rd, 2024, Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre received notification that funding for the SARAH (Sexual Assault Recovery and Healing) Counselling Program is being discontinued by the Federal Government. Without this funding, SARAH cannot be sustained and will cease operations in May, leaving hundreds of current and future survivors of sexual and gender-based violence immediately without the therapeutic counselling, community-based legal options, advocacy, and systems navigation that it provides. This news is particularly difficult to cope with, as it is sexual assault awareness month and yet sexual assault survivors continue to be overlooked and brushed aside. The future of SARAH, and the support that it provides both adult and youth survivors of sexual assault, abuse, and violence, is in dire jeopardy.

This would be a devastating loss. Survivors and friends of the program have immediately launched public GoFundMe campaigns ( and fundraising efforts in attempts to obtain the $75,000 needed to sustain the SARAH program for another fiscal year, however, SARAH, and survivors, are in desperate need of generosity our communities and government to prevent this enormous gap in care from becoming reality.

Without SARAH, survivors would face barriers from accessing timely care in their home communities and having someone to walk alongside them as they work towards healing from the harms they experienced. SARAH is the only program offering compassionate care and highly-experienced knowledge specific to sexual assault, abuse, harassment, exploitation, and trafficking for rural Manitobans, where per capita rates of sexual violence are found to be even higher than in the urban core and higher than in any other province (Stats Can). 40% of rural Manitobans surveyed revealed that they, or something they know, have experienced sexual violence in their community (, which includes an overrepresentation of Indigenous relatives within the region and in bordering reserve communities. Youth and children are also experiencing sexual violence at higher rates than ever, especially in the digital world, and are able to access SARAH care through their schools and as a critical component to the SADI (Sexual Assault Discussion Initiative) program at Survivor’s Hope. Without SARAH, these youth, and adult survivors, would be deferred to long waitlists in Winnipeg and remain unsupported, which can compound the effects of trauma and lead to worsening mental health outcomes, substance use and suicide (Chivers-Wilson, NCBI).

In the 2023/24 fiscal year alone, SARAH Counsellors, LP Penner and Melanie Wood, delivered over 330 counselling sessions in the home communities of participants, educated hundreds of service providers to further their own competency to support survivors, and aided countless individuals in navigating other vital resources, including the legal and medical systems, emergency shelters, victim’s services, and basic needs. Their extensive experience and expertise benefits survivors, and the general public, in countless ways, but their passion for this work, empathy, and compassion is unmatched and holds the true heart of everything the SARAH program stands for.

A testament from a Survivor involved with SARAH:

Personally, this program is one that I wish I had known about when I was younger and needed support to understand my experiences of sexualized violence and how it affected me. Luckily, I knew about the SARAH Counselling Program when I was unexpectedly triggered by a historic experience of sexualized violence and needed someone to talk to. I never expected to have to continue dealing with triggers from my experiences of sexual assault that happened 20 years ago, but I am glad that I had the resources to reach out to when this did happen. When first accessing the program, I thought that it would be weeks or months until I would get to talk to a counsellor. To my surprise, LP was able to see me within days. There was no wait to see them, and no cost. For the first time in my life, in terms of accessing services surrounding my past experiences of sexual assault, there were no barriers. No red tape. Knowing that I could talk to someone who specializes in sexualized violence and who knows about the rural experience made me feel that I finally have someone that I can turn to if I need to. And this is just my story. There are many others who have been touched by this program and given a new sense of hope. When I think about all of the times that I have promoted this program through work, through my volunteer roles, and to friends and community members, I think about how huge of an impact the SARAH Counselling Program has. We need to save this program to help all individuals who have experienced sexualized violence to have a voice, and to know that they have someone in their corner. We also need to save this program so that all future survivors will have access to a specialized therapist who gets it. Who has supported other survivors. Who can help them to understand that what happened wasn’t their fault. If I would have had access to this program growing up, perhaps I would have felt that someone believed me, and that the assaults were never my fault. The SARAH Counsellors LP and Mel help people to feel heard. They help them to feel seen. They assist survivors in understanding that what happened was not their fault, and that they believe them.

This program supports people in ways that have lasting impacts. We cannot let this program go. Please, help us save the SARAH Counselling Program. Any donation will help make an impact. Help me in supporting Survivor’s Hope today.

-Robyn Sugden

On behalf of survivors, staff, volunteers, and the Board of Directors at Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre, we ask in earnest for support to continue this life-saving program through this crisis.

Go Fund Me Page Link

Advocacy Letter Template

A Message from our Board 

CBC News Article 

CTV News Video 

Global News Video

Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre Inc. is a registered charitable organization #898311709 RR 0001.

Our friends at UpHouse Inc. are currently matching donations received up to $2500. Simply contribute using the form below and e-mail a picture of your receipt to