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UGM shelter at capacity with the early-season cold snap

Last Updated Oct 3, 2018 at 10:19 am PDT

(iStock photo)

The Union Gospel Mission had to turn away 15 people in the past two nights from its shelter

Big demand for sleeping bags, jackets, blankets for people in need

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The temperatures have been dropping lower than usual for this time of year, and vulnerable people in Vancouver have been turning to shelters for warmth.

Jeremy Hunka with the Union Gospel Mission said the group’s shelter has been at capacity the past two nights. “We’ve been filled right to the maximum that we’ve been able to fit people in. Last night, we had nine turnaways.”

The UGM had to turn away six people the night before.

But Hunka pointed out they have not yet seen the number of turnaways or the level of cold that we saw last year.

Hunka said there is also a big demand for the organization’s rescue vehicle that goes out into the community to people in need.

“Our mobile mission is actually getting more requests than regular for warm gear for sleeping. We’ve been giving out a few extra sleeping bags, jackets, blankets… [They’re] outside. It’s colder than usual. That is the biggest concern right now, considering the cold is hitting a little earlier than people would expect.”

The temperature dipped down to two degrees last night.

The UGM is worried about the colder months to come, pointing out it’s harder for people to focus on getting off the streets when they are just focusing on survival.

“This is a very early cold spell that’s hitting people. The fact that we’re already seeing people take note and say, ‘This is bad, this is affecting us” really doesn’t bode well for the rest of the winter when we know rain, wind, snow, and cold is coming. It’s going to hurt a lot of people.”

Hunka said they’re currently well-stocked for cold weather gear. “We’ve got toques and jackets. But if this cold weather lasts, those things will deplete.”

The UGM is always in need of waterproof jackets, boots, and socks.

 – With files from Sonia Aslam