Being able to escape the outdoors during a winter in Fort Frances is essential to survive.
To help get homeless individuals out of the cold, a warming centre is set to open around mid-December in the basement of the Apostolic Way Church (324 Victoria Ave.).
The “Out of the Cold” warming shelter will start off running four days a week with hopes of extending to seven once adequate staff are hired and trained.
“Things are progressing well this year, we've had a lot smoother of a year than we did in our first year,” said Jamie Petrin of the homelessness committee.
“We'll be open probably until spring. We don't have set dates right now because it will also depend on the weather—if it is freezing this spring than we may have to stay open a little bit longer.”
“But in the meantime, the homeless committee is still working on trying to get more supportive housing in place,” she added.
Petrin said the committee is working on formal partnerships to find a more permanent solution to homelessness.
“What we've been looking at is not so much like a traditional shelter; what we're looking at is that transitional, supportive housing piece with spaces for people who are in crisis due to their housing situation,” she explained.
“It's not necessarily just building a shelter . . . not to say shelters don't help people but they don't house people as effectively as actual housing does.”
Supportive housing also makes it easier for individuals to step out of homelessness, according to Petrin.
Last year, the warming centre had a soft opening and ran from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. for two nights, before hiring more staff and extending to four nights, and then seven.
This year, the centre will run for 12 hours at a time again but the homelessness committee is determining if the centre will run 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or over another time period to best serve those without a home.
“It's nice to have that transition. If it's open until 8, then they can go to another agency that's open at 8 or 8:30 like the Friendship Centre or something, so it kind of all flows in,” Petrin noted.
Over the next week the homelessness committee will be setting up the warming centre at the Apostolic Way Church.
Petrin told the Times volunteers are needed at the warming centre and require a vulnerable sector check before starting.
Those who are interested in volunteering are asked to contact Laureen Morrish at email@example.com as soon as possible so the committee can do police checks in a timely fashion.
The committee said they are extremely appreciative of any monetary donations or non-financial donations, such as warm outdoor winter clothing, new undergarments and socks, hygiene items containing no alcohol and easy-to-open non-perishable food items.