Sunday October 26, 2014

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Warm Welcome shelter numbers are growing

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The numbers have been increasing for the Warm Welcome shelter in the last couple of weeks.

Estevan Salvation Army Lieutenant Brian Bobolo said that in late December and early January, they've been attracting about six people a night. The increase in numbers coincided with the Christmas break, and a cold snap in which temperatures plummeted below -30 C on a number of occasions. The wind chill occasionally hovered around -50 C.

Those are reasons that more people have been coming, Bobolo said, but it also helps that the shelter has been open seven nights a week. It has been at the Salvation Army from Sunday to Tuesday nights, and St. Paul's United Church Wednesday to Saturday nights.

"Being open seven nights a week encourages people new to the community to stay in town a little longer, to give the community a little more time, rather than giving up and going back home because they couldn't find a place to live," Bobolo said.

Last year Warm Welcome was only open from Thursday to Sunday at St. Paul's.

Many shelters that Bobolo has been involved with previously have been operating at more than one location.

They've also been able to promote the shelter, and that has attracted new clients.

"We have to do that every year, because people who come are new, and they have to learn about the Warm Welcome each and every year," said Bobolo.

Some of their current clients weren't at the shelter last year, and it took some time for them to learn about the shelter.

One of their clients was sleeping in an unheated trailer prior to coming to Warm Welcome, Bobolo said.

"We are really concerned with people out there who are living in subpar conditions, and we want to make sure they're warm, well-fed and part of the Warm Welcome community," said Bobolo.

Men have been the predominant users of the shelter in 2013-14, Bobolo said, and that is a pretty common occurrence for shelters in Canada.

"Women tend to find places with friends for a little bit longer than men do before they have to move on, but women and men do need the shelter from time to time," said Bobolo.

Volunteers are needed to help out with Warm Welcome, but the number of volunteers has been increasing, he said. Donations are also needed to meet the ongoing needs of the shelter's clients, since Warm Welcome goes beyond providing a place to stay for the homeless in Estevan. 


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