Manitoba homeless shelters need help as temperatures plummet

Homeless shelters in Winnipeg and Brandon urgently need the public's help as temperatures continue to plummet and the wind chill picks up.

Siloam Mission needs winter clothes; Brandon's shelter requires financial help to open shelter

Siloam Mission opens podiatry clinic for Winnipeg's homeless

7 years ago
Winnipeg's Siloam Mission is now offering podiatry services to people who live on the streets and are often on their feet with poor footwear. 2:03

Homeless shelters in Winnipeg and Brandon urgently need the public's help as temperatures continue to plummet and the wind chill picks up.

Siloam Mission in Winnipeg needs a number of winter clothing items, especially winter boots, long johns, winter jackets, gloves, hooded sweatshirts, toques and socks.

"People have been very generous but the demand is very high. We are still in urgent need of these items in all sizes and especially in larger sizes. Those are the current most needed things, especially large and extra large long johns," said Donna-Lynn Baskin, the manager of communications for Siloam.

Siloam Mission in Winnipeg is in urgent need of winter clothing. (CBC)
A lot of male clients work labour jobs and don't have long underwear. Baskin said the shelves are almost bare and large sizes are completely gone.

On Thursday, Siloam Mission opened a podiatry room where clients can have foot-related health problems addressed by a team of three volunteer podiatrists and foot nurses.

Many people who are homeless have to stand or walk constantly without proper footwear, which can lead to frostbite, blisters, wounds, callouses and other things that can eventually result in major health issues, according to officials.

"Some of the patrons have undiagnosed diabetes and vascular problems and things like that. So being that they're on their feet, we need to take care of … basically the ailments that can happen to the feet," said Dr. Tejel Patel.

Last year, more than 200 people came to Siloam Mission's health centre with foot-related problems.

Brandon shelter opening earlier

Meanwhile, in Brandon, concern for the homeless during this cold snap is prompting the emergency shelter there to open sooner this year.

Brandon's Safe and Warm Weather Emergency Shelter is planning to open on Monday — nine days earlier than last year.

Salvation Army Capt. Rhonda Smith, who chairs the community committee, says she knows people are sleeping on the streets in –28 C weather.

"They could be sleeping behind buildings, sharing a mattress on the ground to keep warm. They will do whatever they need, perhaps even committing a crime to be in a warm jail," she said.

"It is survival. It is doing what you need to do to stay alive."

But Smith says the shelter needs some financial help to open earlier. The cost to run the facility is about $50,000. It has only half of that.

"It may sound simple to some, but it really comes down to the difference of life and death for people living on the streets," she said.

"Last year, because we were open from December to March, we didn't have a single death linked to freezing on the streets of Brandon. So for us that is a success."