Out Of The Cold
It’s hard enough living on the street when the weather is fair, but when winter arrives and the temperature drops, even the hardiest homeless people need a place to stay warm and dry.
Our Place Society on Pandora Avenue offers year-round shelter during regular working hours, but requires additional funding to keep the facility open until nine o’clock when emergency shelter mats become available at various locations around town.
Bridging that gap is Out of the Cold, a donor-funded initiative that Our Place runs to provide a warm dry place for people to hang out in the evenings
“This time of year people really appreciate a warm place to stay. With Out of the Cold they don’t have to sit on the grass or on a sidewalk or in a doorway somewhere,” says Jim Lade, who helps run the emergency shelter beds at First Metropolitan United Church. “Out of the Cold fills an important gap in services during the winter months.”
Most emergency facilities are unable to open earlier due to evening programming. In addition, limited resources mean the emergency beds can’t be staffed for longer than 12 hours.
Often there are waiting lists for overnight shelter beds and some people have to be turned away, but at least the Out of the Cold initiative provides a few extra hours of warmth and comfort for those who can’t find a bed, he says.
Why provide extended hours?
In the winter, there are a growing number of people who depend on night shelters for their survival. These are either year-round night shleters like the shelter at the 1st Metropolitan Church run by Our Place Society, seasonal shelters like at the Victoria Native Friendship Center, or extreme weather shelters which open during very cold weather around the city. All of these shelters operate between 8:30pm and 6:30am, providing mats, and a safe warm place to sleep through the night.
Unfortunately, during regular hours these shelters leave 30 minutes in the morning and 3 hours in the evenings when there is no safe, warm and dry place for our homeless community to sit in comfort. Extended hours fills those gaps, so that there is no time of day when anybody has nowhere to stay warm and dry.
What are extended hours like at Our Place?
An evening of extended hours is much like any other time of day in our drop-in center. We have an open nutrition bar serving hot drinks and providing healthy snacks. There is programming, movie nights, and access to computers and outreach workers to help solve problems. The front reception desk provides advice on where to access shelter spaces that night. Often, there is live music, or community groups coming in to provide some entertainment or treats to help relieve boredom. All in all Our Place in the evening is a safe, warm and welcoming place for anybody to relax, take the weight off their feet and find a little peace and quiet.
Donating to Out Of The Cold
Every year, Our Place Society reaches out for donations to the Out Of The Cold campaign. Interested in supporting extended hours in 2019? Click here to support extended hours...