Safe Harbour Society provided shelter to a record-breaking 153 people on Sunday night.
Executive director Kath Hoffman said it’s the most people the overnight mat program has seen since it reached 127 in October.
“Who would have thought we’d be at 153,” said Hoffman, adding that just as many clients would have been in and out during the day when the building reverts to a daytime warming centre.
She said in the summer just under 100 people were typically using the shelter. Demand has been steadily increasing in the last few months and was expected to remain high on Tuesday.
Located in the former Cannery Row Bingo, the daytime warming centre and overnight mat program is available for people facing homelessness who are intoxicated or under the influence.
She said shelter staff have been very busy, but they often are no matter the time of year.
“Those guys have been extraordinary. They need people to recognize the work they’re doing in there and how hard it is, and how dedicated they are to making sure we’re doing everything we can with the limited resources we have.”
She said Safe Harbour needs community support when it’s cold, but also year-round. The service provided is indispensable.
“Without it, there would have been 153 people outside the other night,” Hoffman said.
Recently Red Deer’s Mustard Seed recently started 24/7 operations and has also seen an increase in demand for all its services.
“In the past, we’ve been open when it’s -20 C or colder, so now to be open 24/7, it’s a huge win for our guests and for our community,” said director of operations Laura Giesbrecht, adding that funding is in place until 2024.
“To be able to care for our guests that way it’s really significant. This is something we dreamed about for quite some time.”
She said expansion of services came at the right time to help people when the winter weather arrived and as inflation continues to climb. Mustard Seed’s 46-shelter bed shelter has been close to full and demand for meal services, including the school lunch program, has dramatically increased.
“We are open for drop-in for non-shelter guests Monday to Friday,” Giesbrecht said.
Mustard Seed would appreciate donations of seasonally appropriate clothing to help keep clients warm like winter coats, mitts, gloves, toques, and hand warmers. To donate visit theseed.ca/coldalert.
Safe Harbour is in need of sweatpants for men (small and medium), warm socks, hand and foot warmers, gloves, long underwear, and regular underwear for men and women. Toques or scarves are not needed at this time. People should call Safe Harbour’s main line to find out when donations can be dropped off.