The woman running a new outreach for vulnerable women on Vernon streets says she’s hearing stories of fear as a result of the search on a Salmon River Road farm.
Angie Lohr says with at least five women missing, others are feeling vulnerable.
“So, what the girls on the street are saying is they know four of the girls personally as their friends. They know their families and they’re very concerned that they’re missing. Of course, every one is trying to put one and one together to make it two to be the farm.”
Lohr stresses not all the women missing are in the sex trade.
She’s angry that women are targets every day and nothing is done about it.
Lohr wonders why just chastise sex trade workers, saying it’s time to look at men in the community, men who are working and going home to their families who are creating the demand.
She says that just opens the door to predators to walk in and do what they want.
The search of the farm has prompted a Kelowna company to offer its help to Lohr’s Hope Outreach team.
Tech company YodelMe is offering a new app it has developed.
It allows a user to input a check in and check out time.
“And if you don’t check out, it just kind of prompts you with a little text or something, did you forget are you okay, and if you don’t reply it goes to a call station that puts an emergency tag on it.”
She says the company has offered to monitor it for free.
The app isn’t in use yet and Lohr hopes to begin a pilot project with it soon.
“And then see how that goes. See how the women accept it. See what kind of response or how that can work. Then hopefully get the community in it. It could go province wide. It could go worldwide.”
Lohr says if any of the women missing in the North Okanagan had that app they might have been found.
In the meantime, she says her new outreach is receiving tremendous support.
Her team checks in on women Friday through Sunday nights and provides various items of needs.
With the colder weather, they could use warm clothing among other supplies.
She is still looking for sponsors and has applied for a grant out of Vernon.
Another orientation session for volunteers will be held at the end of November.
Next up is the formation of a Narcan dispensing team to hand out harm reduction packages to men and women.
Lohr says she’s finding that while Naloxone is available, a lot of street people are either not picking them up or are not refilling them.
The team will go out to dispense kits and teach people how to use it.