April 21st, 2024

Homeless advocates calling for more aid during cold snap

By Lethbridge Herald on February 8, 2021.

Herald photo by Tim Kalinowski Lethbridge Soup Kitchen executive director Bill Ginther hands out extra clothes and winter wear to members of the local homeless community during the noon meal on Monday. Ginther and other advocates for the homeless are calling for the City and residents to do more to help those suffering due to the extreme cold.

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
Local advocates for Lethbridge’s homeless community are calling for more aid from the community to help during this extreme cold snap.
“I am seeing a lot of people wandering around without any gloves, without any toque, in inadequate winter clothing,” says Bill Ginther, executive director of the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen
“This despite the fact there are a lot of good organizations in town like Streets Alive and others that offer clothing.
“For people generally, I am often asked: ‘What can I do?’ Well, buy a bunch of gloves, and buy a bunch of toques, and hand them out to people when you see them. It doesn’t have to be a program. And don’t be so quick to move people along if they are huddled somewhere in a corner unless you have an adequate place for them to go.”
Ginther says his organization is serving three hot meals a day to help keep people warm, but there are still many hours in the day people are walking around without adequate protection or shelter from the cold.
“I have seen several cases of extreme frostbite already, and we’ll see more of that (this week),” he says.
Ginther is calling for another emergency shelter space to be opened up in the city to help with the extreme cold, and going forward. He says obviously there is not enough space with social distancing rules in effect at the current shelter to meet the needs of the local homeless population when they are still outside despite a weather event like this.
“There have been suggestions of an emergency space, and that has been debated out there in the past,” he states. “But we see, the powers that be have been very slow to approve anything that might set precedent. I guess my comment on that is I don’t care about precedent, I care about people. We have people who are really suffering and struggling outside.”
Kindness to Others founder Alvin Mills concurs with Ginther.
“With the extreme cold, we’re hoping the City can step up and provide an emergency, temporary shelter for the ones who are struggling on the street here, and, if possible, allow blankets,” he says. “A lot of the homeless population have stated they would be willing to go to a building if they are allowed blankets. That’s one of the basic needs of humans. A blanket offers comfort, and they don’t allow that at Alpha House.”
Mills says he and others in the community are heading out as much as possible in the cold to check on those still outside.
“I do think the (CPOs) and the Watch program everybody is really watching out for anybody that might nod off and not wake up,” he states bluntly. “It is life-threatening when it is this cold.”
Mills is calling on Lethbridge residents and the Blood Tribe to do as much as they can right now to help keep people safe in the dangerous cold.
“Anything that will help,” Mills says. “Hopefully the community can pull together and see what we could do for them.”
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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