How The Salvation Army Supports the Homeless in Cold Weather

Salvation Army worker retrieves supplies from mobile feeding unit
Categories: Articles, Blog, Feature, Mobile, Newswire

Salvation Army cold weather programs across the country are ramping up for the 2019 winter season.

When the temperatures plummet, we work hard to ensure no one spends the night in the cold.

“The Salvation Army’s priority during cold weather is to ensure safety by connecting people with services, either emergency or within the community,” says Mark Stewart, Director of Emergency and Transitional Care at The Salvation Army’s Booth Centre in Winnipeg.

“Last week when it was really cold, below–40C, people ran to the outreach van because their toes were so frozen they couldn’t feel them,” says Stewart. “When you’re roaming the streets, you just don’t know what to expect.”

In Winnipeg, The Salvation Army has retrofitted an old ambulance to patrol the streets and help those experiencing homelessness in frigid temperatures.

“There are many dangers for people in cold weather―hypothermia, frostbite or death,” says Stewart. “We check on people, hand out food and warm clothing and transport them to our emergency shelter if they need or want it.”

In Victoria, when overnight temperatures dip below freezing, its emergency weather protocol is activated.

“It’s very important that the homeless have places where they can come, warm up inside and stay for the night, especially in cold weather,” says Patricia Mamic of The Salvation Army in Victoria.

“Extreme weather response mats are set up. That’s in addition to the regular shelter and transitional beds that give the homeless and people fighting addiction a place to stay.”

“There are a few practical things the public can do to help those experiencing homelessness,” says Stewart. “Buying a hot drink, providing warm clothes and letting emergency services know when someone is struggling in the cold can make a difference.”