A hygiene centre for the homeless is now open in Kelowna

Hygiene centre for homeless

A hygiene centre for the homeless has opened up at Kelowna's Metro Community Church on Ellis Street, in the previous location of the Welcome Inn winter shelter.

The Welcome Inn provided 40 beds to people experiencing homelessness throughout the winter, but now that spring has arrived, the shelter is no more. 

But during the COVID-19 pandemic, staff at the Welcome Inn have found a way to help Kelowna's vulnerable by creating a hygiene centre. Beds were taken out on March 27 and the hygiene centre was open on March 31.

"Now that spring has come we had planned on closing down, but just given the current crisis we had decided to reopen, using the facility as a hygiene centre so now we've got laundry facilities and washrooms," says co-manager of the Welcome Inn Jason Siebenga.

With numerous temporary shelters closing down in West Kelowna and Kelowna as well as many public facilities staying closed, the centre is crucial to ensure people living outside remain healthy and safe during the pandemic.

"Really what happened, as soon as COVID became really serious, a lot of the facilities that would have been public got shut down. So places that people have found to go shower or go to the washroom, they were all just gone," says Siebenga. 

BC Housing has provided people with tents and camping gear and many of these people are now staying at the outdoor Recreation Avenue homeless camp, where meals are provided by the Gospel Mission, Metro Community, The Salvation Army Food Truck and the Canadian Mental Health Association Kelowna.

Clothing donations are accepted at the hygiene centre at 1265 Ellis Street open seven-days-a-week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is currently a high demand for large backpacks. 

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