The Salvation Army Crossroads Residential Services in Saskatoon is now able to accommodate more people seeking shelter from frigid prairie winter nights. With a generous grant from United Way Saskatoon and Area, The Salvation Army warm up centre is the only space in the city where people can come in from the cold between the hours of 10pm and 8am.
“Imagine, it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, it’s minus 30 degrees outside, -45 with the windchill and you need to get warm. Where do you go, what do you do?” asks Marc Cheriyan, Interim Executive Director of Crossroads Residential Services. “We noticed that we were the only place in the city that is open between 10pm and 8am, we noticed that because our lobby was full” Cheriyan explains.
The Salvation Army and United Way have a long-standing partnership collaborating on Saskatchewan’s Cold Weather Strategy – a government and non-profit initiative to ensure everyone has access to shelter during cold weather. Crossroads Residential Services was already operating at 142% capacity in December but knew they had to do more.
The partners of the Cold Weather Strategy identified a gap in services in Saskatoon. Although there are a number of options for community members to escape the cold during the day, there were fewer places to warm up at night. United Way accepted The Salvation Army’s request for funding to address an urgent need in the community.
“United Way is pleased to support through a one-time grant of $32,000 the expansion of The Salvation Army’s warm up centre. United Way’s leadership to launch the cold weather strategy in 2012 means our community can come together quickly to respond and provide safety and shelter to all who need it. The Salvation Army identified that while there are a number of options for people experiencing homelessness to warm up during the day, there were few options at night when the temperature drops dangerously low” says Sheri Benson CEO of United Way Saskatoon and Area.
Cheriyan says approximately 42 people visit the warm up centre each night and spend an average of four and a half hours inside. They can get coffee, hot chocolate and sandwiches while they are there and have access to additional cold weather clothing such as mitts, toques and scarves. “We’ll also make sure that we try to connect them with other services” Cheriyan adds.“Through generous donor support, United Way helped fund a short-term solution; however, we need to find a long-term solution to end homelessness in our community that will ensure everyone has a safe, affordable place to call home” says Benson.
The warm up centre will be open every night until March 31st.
The Salvation Army Warm Up Centre continues to be the only safe option for community members to escape the cold weather between the hours of 10:00pm and 8:00am.