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Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission gearing up to help the homeless beat the heat

File Photo. The Union Gospel Mission says hot weather is especially dangerous for people living on the street.
File Photo. The Union Gospel Mission says hot weather is especially dangerous for people living on the street. Paul Chiasson / Canadian Press

Union Gospel Mission (UGM) is preparing for the anticipated hot weather.

“Keeping cool, in some circumstances, can be life and death,” UGM spokesperson Jeremy Hunka said.

Temperatures are expected to rise up to 32 degrees, and Hunka explained that can be dangerous for people on the street.

“They don’t have an opportunity, necessarily, to cool down,” he said. “And especially their immune systems, if they’re already homeless, are severely diminished. So they’re at an increased risk for things like heat exhaustion and in extreme cases heat stroke.”

Hunka said homeless people are already at a disadvantage just trying to survive on the street “and the heat just makes that more difficult, it makes it a lot harder.

“And when you add things like mental illness, or multiple health concerns into the mix, when you’re on the street that sort of extreme heat can be dangerous, and that’s why we take it so seriously.”

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Hunka explained that the UGM team is gearing up to hand out light clothing, water and hats, and will be reminding people to stay hydrated.

He said the UGM office will be open as well during the day to make water available and to direct people to drop-in centres to cool down.

Anyone interested in donating weather-appropriate clothing can do so at the Union Gospel Mission office at 601 E. Hastings St.

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