Warmth in Winter

Each individual staying in emergency shelter has a story to tell and those stories are not always easy to hear. Some men will spend only one night, others will return frequently. The reasons for coming are as varied as the men themselves, but perhaps one thread common to all is a desire or need for warmth.

Warmth can mean something different to everyone. It may be something tangible, like a blanket on a bed, or a bowl of soup to fill an empty stomach. It may be something intangible, like a smile or conversation, or a sense of community among those with stories similar to your own.

I’ve often thought what sets Men’s Mission apart as an emergency shelter provider is the care we provide beyond a bed and meals. The intangible warmth with the tangible. To use a familiar phrase, “meeting need at the point of need”. For over 70 years, the Men’s Mission has provided support for the physical body and for the mind and spirit as well. We offer a refuge from the weather and a place where a sense of community is developed and shaped among staff, volunteers and participants.

For those experiencing homelessness, each season is challenging, yet the sting of winter can be jarring. While we think of the harsh elements and inadequate appropriate outdoor clothing, let’s also consider the impact this particular winter has on that sense of community. The difficulties in gathering safely with friends, the challenges of moving around the city by foot, the lengthening nights increasing the sense of isolation and loneliness.

When someone is struggling to have their basic needs met, mental health and relationships can slip down the priority list. It becomes easy to overlook their importance when you don’t have somewhere to sleep or food to eat. But what if we treated community and friendship as a basic need for the spirit?

Our emergency shelter can be a place for hope. Once participants have somewhere to lay their heads and nourishment, they can begin to form or restore the connections needed to lead them to a different tomorrow.

As the temperature drops and the nights grow longer, lets not only warm the bodies of our neighbours in need, but lets create a warm, welcoming and positive environment for their spirits as well, giving them strength to bring change to their lives.

Your neighbourhood can become a place of hope too, for your neighbours in need.

The Men’s Mission – Warmth in Winter. Loving God, loving others.

Photo of Mission Services of London's Executive Director, Peter RozelukWritten by Peter Rozeluk, Executive Director

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