Upper Room Mission opens winter shelter program to bring homeless in from the cold

Shelter mats open for winter

Vernon's Upper Room Mission Society is launching a winter shelter program to provide relief to vulnerable populations.

The temporary winter shelter mat program is geared towards providing a warm and safe space to sleep for people experiencing homelessness during the coldest months.

“Based on last year's experience with people suffering during the winter months, we wanted to support our community with an additional safe and warm shelter during the winter months,” says executive director Jacco de Vin. “With 15 available beds each night, we will not be able to help everyone still outside, but we hope we can continue making a difference in the lives of those who do stay with us.”

The service was made possible with support from local donors, the Foord Family Foundation, and BC Housing. Upper Room Mission says the program opened Nov. 8 and will run until Mar. 31.

The room currently has 10 beds and a waitlist that will grow to 15 available beds on Dec. 1. Everyone who needs shelter is welcome, and registration to stay in the shelter is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

During the winter season, the shelter will operate from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., guests will receive a meal and snack upon entering the shelter and a simple breakfast before regular services commence.

No substances are allowed within the shelter or Upper Room Mission building.

People staying in the shelter will have access to its social worker to receive support with the challenges they face in exiting homelessness and/or addiction.

The society collaborates with the Turning Points shelter and other community partners to ensure people are getting connected to the resources they need.

Upper Room Mission says homelessness has increased in Vernon, pointing to the last homeless count, which increased to 279, up from 224 in 2021.

The actual number of people experiencing homelessness is believed to be nearly double that.

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