A Winnipeg church has become the latest place that Winnipeg's homeless can find refuge from the brutal cold of this winter.
While the typical worship services take place at Augustine United Church Sunday mornings, at night it now transforms into a homeless shelter.
Spearheaded by 1JustCity, the charity is working with Agustine United Church to provide a warm place to sleep.
Tessa Blaikie is the Fund Developer at 1JustCity, and she said it was their already existing partnership with the church which made for an obvious choice. "I approached Augustine United because, of our four partner charities, Oak Table is actually located inside the church, and Oak Table also has the highest rate of homeless people using their services. So I knew, in terms of the population we're working with, where our people needed a place to sleep."
The church has provided the space for free to 1JustCity, and members are also involved by volunteering. There's also on-site security provided by Bear Paw Security, ensuring that belongings and the people that use the space are safe.
The space is opened on any nights when the temperature with the windchill is -10 or colder overnight.
Other churches can do the same
Blaikie says that other churches have been curious, and asking about the steps taken to provide such a space. 1JustCity has prepared a document that other churches can see, in response.
"We've been really fortunate that Salvation Army has had our back from the begining. They've lent us mats to use, and they've shown us their policies as we do this in an emergency way. We've really relied on their expertise in this."
There were quite a few "boxes to check off," according to Blaikie, when it came to the city & province, but she notes that everything went fairly smooth. "We definitely had God on our side in making this work, and so many great people helping."
If you are interested in knowing more or volunteering you can find out more at http://1justcity.ca/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org