With temperatures dropping, Start Me Up Niagara (SMUN), Silver Spire United Church and Niagara Region have worked jointly to open a warming centre to give those who are vulnerable and may be experiencing homelessness a safe, warm indoor place to rest and access amenities in St. Catharines.
Silver Spire United Church located at 366 St. Paul Street in St. Catharines will be opening its doors for the warming centre on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The warming centre is open seven days a week from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. with an end date of April 15, 2022. Once inside, visitors are welcome to a light meal, restrooms and other supports from staff including accessing services. Showers will also be available each day during the open hours. The warming centre is accessible through the Head Street entrance located at the back of the church.
The current pandemic measures for community organizations and businesses such as reduced availability and capacity has resulted in a decrease to in-person contacts and closures have caused a sudden disruption in access to services for individuals experiencing homelessness. These closures include resources that individuals typically rely on to meet basic needs (i.e. public spaces, restrooms, food, etc.) The homelessness system also continues to be challenged by reduced capacities in other systems such as corrections, violence against women shelters, mental health safe beds and the hospital. These combined pressures, coupled with colder winter months have resulted in the need for Niagara for more resources during the day in the winter months.
Rev Karen Orlandi stated, “We are so honoured to be of service to our community. It will give many individuals a warm place to sit and eat their lunch or just a place to warm up with a cup of coffee.”
This partnership between SMUN, Silver Spire, and Niagara Region will provide additional supports to individuals facing homelessness in St. Catharines. Additionally, individuals facing homelessness have access to the Temporary Winter shelter located at Westminster United Church located at 180 Queenston Street, St. Catharines.
Laura Dumas, Executive Director of Start Me Up Niagara says, “We am grateful to Niagara Region for providing the funds to make this endeavor possible and we look forward to the working relationship with Silver Spire that will provide relief to those in need during the cold winter months and will provide access to much needed services available in our community.”
As a Built for Zero community, we continue to develop solutions to achieve our goal of reducing overall chronic homelessness within Niagara while we adjust to respond to the pandemic and the urgent needs of those within our community.