Escaping the cold at CK Warming Centre

A homeless man in a winter coat. (File photo by Manuel Alvarez from Pixabay)

A steady stream of people looking to escape the cold have been using the Warming Centre at Chatham Hope Haven.

Chatham-Kent Employment and Social Services tweeted a message over the weekend stating that Chatham Hope Haven would act as a Warming Centre 24 hours per day until further notice.

Long-time volunteer John Kuipers said a few people, including General Manager Loree Bailey, worked the overnight shift Sunday but more volunteers could come in handy at this point. Those willing to lend a hand are encouraged to contact Hope Haven by calling 519-351-4010 or emailing chathamhopehaven@gmail.com.

Kuipers said the facility is offering coffee, a hot meal, and snacks, as well as a warm place to sit for a while.

“Guys will have a motel room often times but no place to eat and so they come over here and get a hot lunch. Sometimes we’ll give them a bag lunch to go if they need it,” said Kuipers.

As stated in a Twitter post by Employment and Social Services, the Warming Centre is not serving as a shelter or a place to sleep.

“We have a steady dribble of people coming through here,” said Kuipers. “They come and they go. They get something to eat. Sometimes they hang around for a couple of hours.”

Hope Haven expanded its hours in late January from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., seven days a week. Kuipers said the facility will revert to those hours once temperatures start to warm up.

Bailey had previously said overnight accommodations are not available at this time as current pandemic restrictions would make that service difficult. However, hours may be expanded again in the future based on demand.