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Goal of new drop-in centre is to prevent suicide

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Troy Shantz

Deker’s Place is now open, providing a safe haven for those at risk of suicide.

“(Clients) are never alone when they come into our facility,” said Teresa Ingles, founder of the Deker Bauer Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“A lot of times… the hardest part is being alone.”

For now, Deker’s Place is open only on weekends, from 7 a.m. Saturday to 11 p.m. on Sunday. But a phone line is operating, and as funding and staffing become available the centre aims to be open 24/7, Ingles said.

Teresa Ingles, founder of the Deker Bauer Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Troy Shantz

The facility is at 385 London Rd. on the property of Central Baptist Church, and strategically located near Bluewater Health. It’s a multi-bedroom home with two private consultation rooms, a large family room, resource room, kitchen and fully stocked bathroom.

Deker’s Place has nine volunteer advisors — qualified social service workers and child and youth workers. They meet clients face-to-face or respond to phone calls and text messages when on duty.

“We’re not doing ongoing counselling here… we’re just that place that’s available when nobody else is open,” said Ingles, adding advisors can help clients navigate other agencies and services offered in the city.

Donated time and materials from the Local Carpenter’s Union and Painter’s Union outfitted the house for accessibility, including widened doors, and an accessibility ramp out front.

Ingles said rent and utilities are covered by the church, and supplies and furniture came via a $20,000 boost from the County of Lambton.

A United Way venture grant provided $30,000 for one of two salaried employees. Funding also came from The Bicycle Shop.

“Every community needs one,” said Ingles, whose vision is to have a facility like Deker’s Place in every Canadian city.

“We are the first registered charity for suicide prevention that has a space.”

Ingles lost her son, Deker Bauer, to suicide in 2014. He was 17. She started the Foundation shortly after.

“There was nowhere before for just a drop-in, just to come in at a moment’s notice,” she said.

“If we can catch it in the beginning and it doesn’t get to that, that’s what we’re here for.”

To reach Deker’s Place on weekends, visit the site or call 519-328-9790. During the week, call 519-491-6118. If you are in crisis, call 911.

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