A warming centre will be available this winter when the temperature drops below -5 degrees. Photo: Betsy Kline

Overnight warming centre opening in Castlegar

Facility will be open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. when the temperature dips below -5 degrees.

The local homeless population now has an alternative to sleeping out in the cold.

The Community Harvest Food Bank and St. David’s Anglican Church have partnered together to create a volunteer-run warming centre.

Food Bank president Deb McIntosh consulted with the homeless community before setting up the centre.

“What I have heard was that they would use it potentially when the weather drops below -5 degrees or if there has been lots of rain and they need a dry place,” explained McIntosh.

“They have not demanded or asked for anything other than mutual respect from their community members.”

She is happy to provide an an option for those who want to get out of the cold.

“People makes choices for their own reasons and we will not judge,” added McIntosh.

The centre will be open when the weather forecast predicts temperatures will be -5 or below.

Volunteers will be on hand at St. David’s Anglican Church from 8 to 10 p.m. to welcome those who want to use the facility. If no one arrives by 10 p.m. the facility will close for the night.

All overnight guests must arrive by 10 p.m. and will not be allowed to come and go during the night. Upon registering, they will be given warm socks, pyjamas, a hygiene kit, a cot and blankets. They will also have the use of a tote bins to secure their belongings. The bins will be zip strapped closed for the night.

Coffee, tea, and a light meal will be provided as well as a light breakfast before the centre closes at 8 a.m.

There will always be a minimum of two volunteers on hand, one male and one female.

There are six available beds. Guests will be asked to strip beds in the morning and help put things away.

“It’s a start and it’s not perfect but we are in fact moving forward with compassion, love and respect,” said McIntosh.

A number of cots, blankets, towels, sheets, pillows and socks have already been donated.

To become involved or to make a donation call McIntosh at 250-608-1047.

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