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London church opens doors with beds for the homeless

Pastor Dan Morand stands inside Beth Emmanuel Church, where beds have been set up for the homeless.
Pastor Dan Morand stands inside Beth Emmanuel Church, where beds have been set up for the homeless. Sawyer Bodgan / 980 CFPL

A London church has officially launched a program that aims to house homeless men and help them escape poverty.

The program runs out of Beth Emmanuel Church, a chapel in London’s SoHo neighbourhood that recently added 15 beds in their most recent effort to help the city’s homeless.

READ MORE: Londoners open doors of SoHo church to give city’s homeless a warm place to sleep

Helping the homeless is becoming an annual endeavour for Beth Emmanuel Church.

Last year, the church launched the Urban Haven project, which allowed folks to find shelter in the church for a few nights a week.

“This year, we decided we wanted to take it one step further,” said Pastor Dan Morand, who has led the most recent effort to help the homeless.

One way they took their efforts further was by adding the 15 beds that now sit inside the church’s main area, an upgrade from last year’s common practice of having sleeping bags on the floor, Morand said.

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Beds line the inside of Beth Emmanuel Church in London’s SoHo neighbourhood.
Beds line the inside of Beth Emmanuel Church in London’s SoHo neighbourhood. Sawyer Bodgan / 980 CFPL

Morand is hoping their program will do more than just give people a place to stay for the night.

“We want to present the guys with an option to escape homelessness,” he said.

All of the men staying at the church have to fill out an application, and while they stay, their staff and volunteers work to connect them with services like education, finding work and, if needed, addiction counseling.

“For us, it’s more about quality, not quantity,” Morand said. “We want to run a really good program because we don’t want people going back to the street.”

READ MORE: ‘I’m not apologizing to anybody:’ London pastor says homeless shelter tents staying up

Last month, the church made headlines after complaints were lodged with the city’s bylaw office over tents on church property, which were meant to operate as a homeless shelter.

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According to Morand, the problems with the city were quickly resolved but now they are facing issues with their insurance carrier.

“The insurance issue this year was with the tents, but then, after that, … we said we would take the tents down and we will come inside, but it was still an issue.”

For now, they have an extension on their plan but Morand said their carrier dropped them so the coverage will soon run out.

“We are looking for an insurer that will come alongside us and see things the way we do.”