Heather Hale, executive director at Saskatoon Sexual Health, speaks at a rally outside of the premiers’ meeting in Saskatoon on Wednesday, July 10, 2019.
Matt Smith / Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Saskatoon Sexual Health (SSH) is relocating to a larger space to meet growing demands.Executive Director Heather Hale says the new location in the heart of Riversdale at 213 Avenue C South will feature more clinic space and have meeting rooms for training and workshops.The organization plans to move in December and open in its new space in January.When that happens, the organization will have a new roommate.“We’re moving in with our non-profit besties: OUTSaskatoon. It’s really exciting,” Hale said.She added that the shared space will expand opportunities for collaboration and co-operation and offer broader access to services for everyone.At present, the SSH has offices downtown on Second Avenue North.The SSH has seen a marked growth in the number of people coming through its doors in recent years. More than 3,500 accessed its services last year, nearly double the 2,000 the SSH helped in 2014.The increased demand has maxed out capacity in the organization’s current space; Hale estimates her staff turn away 10 to 15 per cent of potential clients at drop-in clinics.Hale speculates there are three reasons for the increase.One is a rise in sexually-transmitted infections requiring testing and treatment; Saskatoon has high rates of chlamydia, syphilis and HIV.Secondly, people are increasingly aware of sexual reproductive health as a major part of their overall wellbeing, so they are actively seeking out supports.Lastly, SSH has built a growing reputation as a safe and inclusive space where people will receive excellent care in a judgment-free manner.The new space will be more accessible, which Hale says will allow access to clients who use mobility devices.“Our current location is in a basement with a long, narrow staircase. The new space will have street-level access,” she said.Once the SSH moves, it will be able to increase its clinical spaces from the current two rooms, which will mean more clinicians can be scheduled.The organization hopes to build complementary services with OUTSaskatoon, including workshops and counselling. Hale said she particularly looks forward to hosting in-house meetings and training in the new space.To make the move happen, SSH has launched a campaign to raise $50,000 to facilitate the move and expansion. The funds will cover the costs of relocation, renovation and upgraded supplies.“We really do think that every dollar makes a difference and we’re thankful for the support we’ve had from the community already — and know we’ll continue to be supported by the community,” Hale said.