WINNIPEG, February 1, 2018 – Today, Mayor Brian Bowman announced $20,000 in support for a short term extreme cold weather strategy being led by the West Central Women’s Resource Centre, Spence Neighbourhood Association and Rainbow Resource Centre. As well, The Winnipeg Foundation has generously committed $30,000 toward this initiative.
“I would like to thank the West Central Women’s Resource Centre, Spence Neighbourhood Association and Rainbow Resource Centre for developing this plan to address a need in our community,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “I would also like to thank The Winnipeg Foundation for stepping in to support this initiative. While this is only a short term strategy aimed at filling a need for this winter, I am hopeful this will help inform the development of the long term strategy which will aim to make more spaces available during extreme cold weather.”
“We appreciate the dedication and commitment of so many community organizations working together around this critical issue. It is because of our generous donors that The Winnipeg Foundation is able to provide a timely response to support these urgent requests,” said Megan Tate, Director of Community Grants at The Winnipeg Foundation.
“We are happy to have an opportunity to work with our partner organizations, the Mayor’s office and the Winnipeg Foundation to bring a community led solution to what is a very complex problem. We hope that these sites will prevent any other lives from being lost due to extreme temperatures. While this is only a temporary solution, we are all committed to continue to work on a long term strategy,” said Lorie English, Executive Director for the West Central Women’s Resource Centre.
The community groups have developed a short-term plan to provide support toward targeting those who are underserved in the shelter system such as youth, women and the LGBT2SQ community. Currently, most shelters will not allow anyone under 18 and while women and the LGBT2SQ community are accepted in other shelters, some do not feel comfortable in what is typically a male-dominated environment.
The Spence Neighbourhood Association currently operates the West End 24 Safe Space for Youth (WE-24) during the day but is only funded to be opened at night on non-school nights. Part of the funding will go toward opening this space overnight, 7 nights a week until March 31, 2018.
Rainbow Resource Centre and West Central Women’s Resource Centre are working together to open a second site that will serve both women and the LGBT2SQ community and will be open overnights only. This site will be staffed in partnership between West Central Women’s Resource Centre, North End Women’s Resource Centre, North Point Douglas Women’s Resource Centre, and Mount Carmel Clinic, to ensure that the staff on site is well trained and capable of navigating any potential situations that may arise.
The community groups will also be producing small cards detailing the information on warm places to go, as well as outreach numbers for distribution. The community groups will work on a public awareness campaign to get the word out on what options are available to Winnipeggers.
While a long term extreme cold weather strategy is needed, this will provide a short term solution for this year while that strategy is developed. These short term solutions will be helpful in the development of the long term strategy.
These short term services will add to services provided by a variety of community organizations that provide assistance for individuals and families coping with homelessness, poverty, addictions and mental illness in Winnipeg.