Saint John homeless shelter appeals for help over winter
Out of the Cold shelter puts out call for volunteers as it prepares for another season
An overnight emergency shelter for the homeless in Saint John is actively recruiting volunteers and asking for donations so it can be ready to open by January.
The Out of the Cold shelter is preparing for its third winter season, and needs volunteers to help with its overnight shifts, seven days a week. It operates out of the Grace Presbyterian Church and has room for 15 beds.
"We don't have any reason to think that the demand is going to be less than it was last year," said Tony Dickinson, a volunteer with Out of the Cold.
"The assumption is a lot of the guys who were repeat users last year may need us again this year."
The Out of the Cold shelter serves as a back-up to the 27-bed Salvation Army's Centre of Hope, which is expected to be full starting in mid-December. It's the largest homeless shelter in the province, but still struggles to keep up with demand.
Dickinson said his group also takes in some of the men the Salvation Army can't allow inside.
"We're also a wet shelter, which means if a guy is intoxicated when he comes in the door, we're not going to turn him away," he said.
Clients can't drink on site, but they can leave their alcohol at the door and get it back when they leave.
Meanwhile, a new shelter for youth is planned for the city, but it won't be ready this year.
The 10-bed shelter will be built at the site of the old St. James Anglican Church on Broad Street, which still must be demolished.
It's expected to help the estimated 100 homeless and at-risk youth in the city, said Colin McDonald, co-ordinator of Safe Harbour Transitional Youth Services.
"We hope to be building over the winter and opening halfway through 2014," he said.
"In the meantime, we have one winter left here in Saint John where we're not able to meet the emergency needs of these kids."
McDonald said there are services available, but homeless youth need a safe place to stay to get their lives on track.