London

London church opens doors to homeless because 'it's too bloody cold'

A small London church is opening up its doors to help the city’s homeless keep warm during this cold snap.

The church is open three nights a week

The effort is in collaboration with 519 Pursuit. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

A small London church is opening its doors to help the city's homeless keep warm during this cold snap.

Beth Emmanuel Church has transformed one of its rooms into a warming centre for people to receive support and to get a good night's sleep.

It's open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the evenings up until 8 a.m. the next morning.

"We don't care how they got [on the streets], everybody's got a story … the fact is it's too bloody cold for people to be outside," said church pastor Dan Morand, noting the initiative is organized by the Urban Haven Project.

Beth Emmanuel Church is located in the city's SOHO district. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

He said the effort, in collaboration with 519 Pursuit, is meant to complement other shelters and social services in the city.

"We have wonderful services in town and other shelters but the problem is they're maxed. That meant people were outside and they couldn't get in," he said.

Warm clothes, snacks, movies

The London area has been under an extreme cold weather warning, with Environment Canada officials warning of dangers like frostbite, which can set in within minutes.

Morand said on the first night alone, about 40 people showed up at the church to sleep. Twenty people poured in the second night. Many of them were between 20 and 50 years old.

Dan Morand is the church pastor. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

"That might not seem a lot to some people but that's a lot of people outside. That's not acceptable," he said.

The initiative offers people warm clothing, necessities like food and water, as well as items like toothbrushes and shaving creams. Officials will even set up movie nights.

There are also volunteers who stay overnight to help.

The initiative offers people warm clothing, necessities like food and water, as well as items like toothbrushes and shaving creams. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Morand said the church would love to host people on other nights of the week, but there aren't enough resources to make that happen, yet.

He said he'd like to see other churches open their doors for the homeless.

"It was just amazing to see the relief on people's faces — even in the middle of the night you didn't hear a pin drop, everybody was sound asleep," he said. "They're just so grateful"

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