The Guiding Coalition of Homelessness is currently looking for organizations interested in operating a warming shelter for Wetaskiwin.

The Guiding Coalition of Homelessness is currently looking for organizations interested in operating a warming shelter for Wetaskiwin.

Call issued for potential winter warming shelter operators

Community comes together to build resources + connections for vulnerable population

As the City of Wetaskiwin, local social service agencies, residents and business owners work together to find solutions for the region’s homeless community, those interested in operating a warming shelter are invited to connect with the Guiding Coalition of Homelessness.

The Coalition – comprising approximately 40 individuals and agencies – is currently focused on planning for a winter emergency shelter and will provide an update to Wetaskiwin Council Sept. 13.

The current work emerged from last month’s presentation to council by the Coalition’s Winter Shelter Subcommittee, which sought guidance as they worked toward an alternative to the August encampment at the Rock Soup food bank that followed the closure of the Hub downtown.

Today, most of those from the encampment have moved to a city-owned property on the south end of the city as the community works toward a suitable solution before the weather cools. In addition to shelter from the elements, proper sanitation and safety will also be included in the plan, notes Misty Griffith, Executive Director of Wetaskiwin Family and Community Support Services.

One of the biggest challenges is the lack of local agencies that provide services for the vulnerable population. The next step is to determine who will operate the shelter, so the Coalition is asking those interested to connect with Griffith at fcss@wetaskiwin.ca or 780-335-1736.

Requirements include:

  • Minimum two staff members with a Bachelor or Masters degree in a Social Service or Addiction and Mental Health field.

  • Ability to operate a shelter in the evening / overnight.

  • Volunteers who will require mandatory training (can be provided through Wetaskiwin Family and Community Support Service, if needed)

  • Collaborating and working with Wetaskiwin Shelter Board and community

  • Providing safety protocols and requirements agreed to through Wetaskiwin Shelter Board

  • At least three day staff / volunteers to provide cleaning and support for clients seeking information

For a look at how the community has started to approach the challenge and where the process sits today, visit whatifwetaskiwin.ca/ecosystem. For a timeline of where we’ve come from and how much has happened over the past year, visit whatifwetaskiwin.ca/timeline

Needs for today … and tomorrow

Immediate needs: As the community works toward a winter shelter solution, the city’s vulnerable population is in need of essentials right now, including donations of blankets and food. Several community agencies are collecting and co-ordinating efforts – contact FCSS at 780-361-4425 to learn how to contribute.

Looking ahead: To more fully inform current response efforts and the community’s strategy moving forward, a report is expected later this month drawing on information from the Open Door, Alberta Community Development, Rock Soup and City of Wetaskiwin. The City is also participating in a crime prevention pilot project with the RCMP, including data analysis, that it’s hoped will create a clear picture of both local homelessness and crime.

Building community: On Sept. 15, Wetaskiwin FCSS is hosting Bridges to Hope, an event to build community and connections with special guest Dr. Jody Carrington. Dr. Carrington will speak about connection, relationships, trauma, grief and loss – how those look in our community, and how we can continue to grow closer and more connected with one another. Doors open at 6:15 p.m., with discussion getting under way at 6:45 p.m. Learn more and RSVP here.

Wetaskiwin