This week we are spotlighting The Victoria Cool Aid Society – Victoria, BC. We have asked Alan Rycroft, the Community Relations Manager from the shelter to answer some questions for us:
1. Who visits your shelter(s)? How many per month?
We have 129 dedicated beds in three shelters. 40 seasonal mats at shelters only open during winter, and another 15 mats can be used when the beds are all full. We usually have all 184 of these spaces full, plus 15 or more people for whom we don’t have mats for sleeping but who overnight in Rock Bay Landing.
Since most people only need a shelter for between 9 and 12 nights, we help several hundred people each month.
We are seeing increasing numbers of young adults and the elderly. Many of the young adults are “aging out” of programs that previously helped them, and many elderly cannot afford the care they need and simply have nowhere to go.
2. What do the blankets from Urban Barn mean to your organization?
It means more people will survive the winter. Every night during the winter Victoria has more people in need of shelter than we have space. Warm, clean blankets mean that those who endure the cold outside have a better chance of staying alive, warm and healthy throughout those long nights.
3. What is something you’d like people to know about your organization?
Homelessness is not forever. Most Canadians who experience homelessness may do so only for a few days or months, once in their lives. If we provide people with a safe, warm home when they need it, we give them the best chance of a speedy recovery from the events that led to the loss of their home, without enduring the tragedies of life on the streets.
4. How can people get involved and help?
Donate blankets and warm winter clothes – especially coats and socks!