With dropping temperatures, the Salvation Army encourages those without a roof over their head to drop by Family Services in Courtenay, where they will be provided with warm clothing.
A winter coat and a scarf can help prevent hypothermia — when the body loses heat quicker than it can produce it.
“It’s really unfortunate, but we do have people who choose to stay outside, even during those coldest nights,” Brent Hobden, community ministries director at the local branch of the Salvation Army, said Monday. “The encouragement there would be to at least have them check in with our caseworkers at Family Services. We can help them out with coats and mitts and boots…Our preference is always going to be to come in. Let us give you a warm place to sleep, but some people are just not able to do that.”
The Salvation Army operates the Pidcock House emergency shelter in Courtenay. Along with food and beds, the shelter also has a caseworker onsite.
Despite milder weather in recent weeks, Hobden said the demand on shelter beds has nevertheless remained high. However, the 12 extreme weather beds (mats) have not been full.
“The interesting thing is, as soon as that cold started to come in a couple of days ago, then people started coming in,” Hobden said. “It’s just too cold to stay outside.”
The forecast calls for evening lows below zero Celsius all week.
Hobden is part of the leadership team of the local Homelessness Commission.
“We have a couple different opportunities that we’re looking to BC Housing to help us with. Expanding the capacity of the emergency cold-weather beds in the shelter is, I think, a good possibility. With the coalition (to End Homelessness), we’re looking at another opportunity there as well. A little more work needs to be done on it, but I think we’re close on both stages.”
Salvation Army Cornerstone Community and Family Services is located at 468 29th St. in Courtenay. It’s open from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday.
Pidcock House is located at 632 Pidcock Ave. in Courtenay.