Environment Canada issued a humidex advisory for the forest city this week. As the temperatures continue to soar, we’re urged to stay indoors and drink plenty of liquids. But for the many men, women and children who are homeless in our city right now, this is easier said than done.
“Most people think the summer would be much easier than the wintertime for those who are homeless,” says Doug Nemeth, Program Coordinator at Community Mental Health Programs. “But, in the summer, people seem to think they are perfectly safe being out of doors.” This could not be farther from the truth. The dangers that exist on a hot sunny day are far more invisible and harder to predict until we find ourselves helpless against them.
Many of the individuals who are not in shelter and spend their days and nights on the street are susceptible to terrible sunburns, heat stroke and severe dehydration.
One of CMHPs programs, Streetscape, is an emergency case management service providing outreach to those on the streets. The staff spend part of their day seeking out those who may need water and a place to cool down. “The Streetscape team of outreach workers will bring water with them and rouse those who have fallen asleep in the burning sun,” says Nemeth. “We’ll take them to one of the city’s cooling centres or to the library or even the foyer of the mall just for a few minutes of relief.”
The Gathering Place is a drop-in centre operated by CMHP. The centre is open each day of the week but only from 7 am to 11 am. “Many will drop in for a rest and a drink of water.” says Nemeth. “But, the centre is closed during the hottest part of the day. This is a very difficult time for our homeless community.”
How you can help:
Donations of bottled water, sunscreen, hats and loose, light clothing can be taken to the Men’s Mission & Rehabilitation Centre at 459 York Street or call 519 433 2807 to learn more.