With the arrival of winter and cold temperatures, the Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination brought partners together to introduce a community cold weather response for people experiencing homelessness.
The response directs those who see someone on the street in need of non-emergency assistance to call Guelph Police Service (519-824- 1212), Wellington County O.P.P. (519-846-5930), or HERE 24/7 (1-844-437-3247).
Police, including the Integrated Mobile Police and Crisis Teams, will work with HERE 24/7 and emergency shelter providers, Wyndham House and Welcome In Drop In Centre, to facilitate finding and getting to emergency shelter.The need to involve Guelph Police Service and Wellington County O.P.P. was identified, in part, by a local report on homelessness that was released by the Guelph-Wellington 20,000 Homes Campaign earlier this year.
In the report, it was identified that those experiencing homelessness had over 1000 interactions with police in a six-month period, a significantly higher number of interactions compared to other emergency services.
In addition to introducing a cold weather response plan, partners have come together to fund cold weather survival kits for police cruisers. The kits include blankets, wool socks, toques and gloves.
The distribution of kits by police will be in addition to efforts by the Guelph Community Health Centre, who distribute kits to those who are homeless or under-housed.
Donations to the Winter Survival Campaign can be made online at www.guelphchc.ca. Select “Winter Survival Kits” from the drop down menu to make a donation.