Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Community Investors Series V: Inn From The Cold

The fifth non-profit highlighted in the CIES Community Investors Series is Inn from the Cold. Inn From The Cold has operated as an agency of last resort here in Calgary for those children and their families who find themselves with no place else to go for nearly two decades. Going far beyond simply providing food and shelter, their services focus on the variety of support needed to allow children and their families begin the process of recovering both their independence and their self worth. Inn From The Cold offers sanctuary and healing through an integrated continuum of services that includes emergency shelter, instrumental needs, primary medical care, case management, therapeutic early childhood programming, supported housing, and an open door policy to all in need.

We often think we understand all the facts about such shelters but sadly there are many untruths thrown around which consistently need to be clarified in wider society. Homelessness is not simply caused by substance abuse, the most common deduction, but can be brought on by isolation, sudden job loss, poverty, or mental illness. In the end, homelessness is a problem that can affect anyone of us. Just because we believe that our lives are stable and secure today does not necessarily mean this will remain so in the future. The recent recession has had a significant impact as well, as people have lost their jobs or suffered a  drastic reduction in income, while provincial and local governments struggle to balance their budgets.

The numbers below come from the Canadian Homelessness Research Network (CHRN) and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness  (download load full report here) the groups behind what they call the first extensive national report card on homelessness.The report's initial numbers tell a grim story. Among the report's findings:

  • At least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness in any given year.
  • At least 150,000 Canadians a year use a homeless shelter at some point.
  • At least 30,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night.
  • At least 50,000 Canadians are part of the "hidden homeless" on any given night — staying with friends or relatives on a temporary basis as they have nowhere else to go.

2,297 people called Inn from the Cold home during a period of crisis in 2014 and more than half of their guests were children. This was a 130% increase in demand for their shelter services and they operated over capacity 97% of the year, with an average length of stay of 57 days. Unfortunately, children and their families are the fastest growing demographic impacted by homelessness and Inn From The Cold remains committed to a vision of a community where no child or family is homeless.

Their doors are open 24/7, 365 days a year and Inn From The Cold turns no family away.

Thank you to Inn From The Cold for the impact you have had on the life of Calgarians and the city of Calgary for nearly 20 years. For more information about In From The Cold, along with possible career or volunteer opportunities, please visit their website.

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