Kitimat’s cold weather shelter getting frequent use

The cold weather shelter, currently being operated at the First Baptist Church, has seen about 17 visits from half a dozen people.

Kitimat’s Cold Weather Shelter has proven an invaluable service to some in the community.

Shelter co-manager Michelle Martins says the service has been accessed 17 times since it opened in mid-November, with about half a dozen people representing those visits.

Oddly enough though, it’s not the weather which draws people to use

the service.

“Weather doesn’t seem to be as indicative of a precursor to accessing because there were nights where it was really cold…and nobody would show up,” she said. “On the flip side there were people coming in on much warmer nights, when it was five or six degrees out still.”

One of the things that did improve use was moving the location. When they originally opened they were using the Mountainview Alliance Church, but since December 8 they’ve been using space at the First Baptist Church along Columbia Avenue.

“That’s made a huge difference in people accessing,” she said.

The convenience of being down the hill has been important because she said a lot of the people who use the shelter spend more time down the hill in general.

As for what brings people to the shelter, she said it’s hard to say for sure because those are not the types of questions asked of people when they show up at the door, but she said there have been a few people who have recently

lost jobs.

“I think a big reason to accessing is mental health and addictions,” she added.

In addition, most people who use the service don’t tend to have any support systems in place either.

She said they will ask shelter users for emergency contact information, even a doctor, for their files.

“With the exception of a couple of times everybody says no.”

Meanwhile people are encouraged to sign up as volunteers. You can call 250-279-0847 for more information.