Recent cold weather has resulted in an increase of visitors using a local homeless shelter.
For the last week, Hub House has found itself a little more full than usual as temperatures dipped well below freezing, bringing the homeless shelter to capacity more than a few times.
“We’ve been at full capacity three times this week, where we usually only get 10 or 11 people a night,” Dwight Griffiths said late last week.
Griffiths is administrative co-ordinator for the Truro Homeless Outreach Society, which runs the shelter.
“We have 15 beds, and they’ve been filled three times. We try not to turn anyone away, and fortunately we haven’t had to. We have a number of army cots from the old shelter we can set up if needed.”
The increase in people and continuing cold weather has led the shelter to look at alternative ways to support those in need of a warm place.
“This past week, we have been open during the days just so people have someplace to go,” said Griffiths.
“Of course, this has been based on volunteer availability, but we did it in case the library was closed or they get kicked out for loitering and need out of the cold.”
While Griffiths has only been with the shelter since Hub House opened in November, he has seen the numbers from past years, and said there is definitely a difference this year.
“On Christmas, from what I’ve been told, we would only have four or five guests here, but we had over 10 this year during the holidays,” he said.
“The numbers for November were pretty spot-on with previous years, but as it has become colder, we have definitely seen more individuals than we would normally see at this time last year. That is a big change for us.”
Luckily, support and donations since the new shelter opened has prepared them for the increase, and they currently have what they need in terms of supplies.
“The community support has been overwhelmingly tremendous with everything that has come in over the past few months,” said Griffiths.
“Right now, we are looking for big bottles of juice we can serve with supper, as those are a hot commodity right now. We are also always looking for things like toilet paper, paper towel, body washes and shampoos, as those are things we are consistently going through.”
Outside of donations, the shelter is also looking for more people to volunteer.
At the moment, Truro Homeless Outreach Society has just over 100 volunteers for the shelter, but would like to get up to as many as 200 volunteers.
Currently the shelter does not offer normal daytime services and is putting a hold on the special daytime openings to help ensure they can be open overnight, where a warm place is needed the most.
“We would love to be open during the day, but it is all dependent on the availability of our volunteers,” said Griffiths.
“Right now our priority is to make sure we are open during the night. In the day, there are places to go around town such as the library or the Canadian Mental Health Association, but if those were to not be available anymore, we would definitely look into options for that.
“We don’t want to see anyone left outside.”