Hometown St.Thomas Sept 2021

Making Room at The Inn The Inn out of the Cold has begun its shift into The INN. Recently, the Inn out of the Cold shifted to year-round service, but once renovations to their new home at 10 Princess Ave are completed (hopefully by the end of October), The INN will become a 24/7, 365 day shelter for those in need. Lori Fitzgerald, Executive Director of The INN, explains that COVID really showed the city the need for a full-time shelter. “The City asked us to manage the downtown drop in centre in response to COVID and the need quickly became apparent that it would be very beneficial to have a 24/7 shelter where folks could stay and not need to do the sidewalk shuffle around town for food security and other needs. So we began collaborating with City officials to move forward on 24/7 operations at a new location.” Though Lori and the team are grateful for Central United for generously providing space for Inn Out of the Cold for the past 11 years, theshift to the24/7operationmeans that they require their own space to accommodate their guests and Lori is excited for the new space: “The biggest benefit of our new location is the ability to serve our guests more efficiently under one roof as opposed to people having to get up early to leave the shelter, find lunch elsewhere, go to the drop-in for the afternoon and then back to shelter in evening. At our new site, we will serve three meals a day; folks can stay inside and sheltered from the elements, have a designated outdoor space where they can hang out as well as access to staff support and other service providers throughout the day, right on site. On-site assistance includes things like housing applications, identification replacement, medical care, mental health support and connection to needed services. The location is easily accessible to people and near transit routes. Also, we will be much more accessible to community members wishing to drop off donations.”

“With these more comprehensive services,” Lori continues, “we are hoping that we will be able to assist our guests with moving on much more quickly to permanent housing. We also anticipate that physical and mental health will improve as guests get more rest, nutrition and less exposure to the elements. Just the stability of knowing they have a space to stay with a locker and support will, hopefully, allowpeople to focusonnext steps insteadof dailysurvival.” Lori is excited about what a permanent central location will accomplish in cooperation with their community partners, including Central Community Health Centre, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Works and Social Housing and Public Health. The St. Thomas Police Mobile Outreach and Support Team will be hosted on site as well. Volunteers are still needed says Lori. “We need people to work 2-3 hour shifts in various roles from 7am-7pm! There is a role for everyone, geared at their comfort level. Together we will be working to be part of the solution to functional, zero chronic homelessness in St. Thomas-Elgin!” Lori Fitzgerald and Cherisse Swarath in front of The INN's new location

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