It was a winter that started out quite mild but ended with a cold snap that had those who live rough on Kamloops’ streets and river banks looking for shelter to evade the biting cold. The team at The Mustard Seed Kamloops (formerly New Life Community) feel beyond blessed to have been able to provide shelter to so many at the winter refuge and dayroom at the Outreach Centre.
“It was a true blessing to work in collaboration with BC Housing,” said Diane Down, Managing Director of The Mustard Seed Kamloops.“The government agency generously provided funding to our organization to set up a temporary shelter for up to 30 people in our chapel area, and we were also able to keep our dayroom open overnight for those who needed to warm up. Without this funding and partnership with BC Housing and so many others within our city, we would not have been able to open our doors to so many.”
The Mustard Seed Kamloops team conducted Vulnerability Assessment Tests for individuals and provided temporary shelter to 30 of the community’s most vulnerable people. At the start of the program, the team was seeing an average of 12 – 18 people each night, but when the cold weather arrived, all 30 mats were full each evening and approximately 20 – 25 people each night utilized the dayroom to keep warm. In total, there were 1,751 beds/mats for sleeping utilized!
“This refuge not only provided warm, safe shelter for so many in our community who would otherwise be sleeping outside in the cold, but we provided them with meals and an opportunity to shower,” said Down. “One of the biggest benefits of the Winter Refuge is we were able to more deeply connect with people in our community to provide a connection to other services like getting their ID, housing, and in some cases, employment.”
The Winter Refuge program just ended as scheduled on March 31.