YMCA and City of London partner to provide downtown hygiene facilities

The YMCA of Southwestern Ontario's Centre Branch at 382 Waterloo Street in London, Ont. via YMCA of Southwestern Ontario / YouTube

The City of London and the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario are offering a “safe, clean and welcoming environment for those in need of supplies and temporary relief from the elements.”

The YMCA’s Centre Branch at 382 Waterloo Street has had over 50 visitors since it opened its doors on Tues., May 26.

The city says it and the YMCA are “following health unit sanitation guidelines in order to provide shower services, access to sanitizing supplies as well as water and snacks to those experiencing homelessness and other challenges during the pandemic.”

Those accessing the services are subject to COVID-19 screening.

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Speaking on London Live with Mike Stubbs on Fri., May 29, YMCA of Southwestern Ontario CEO Andrew Lockie says the initiative is in line with the original purpose behind the Y.

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“Talking about getting back to roots, you are so right about that. The YMCA has been around for over 160 years and we’ve really evolved and changed with the times,” Lockie said.

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“This pandemic hit us hard and fast, shut down almost all of our operations. Our mindset shifted almost right away to: we’ve got this infrastructure, we’ve got a community in need, what are some of the things that we need to start thinking about doing?”

The branch offers the services from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and those “wishing to access the facility can make an appointment with London Cares through a member of the street outreach team or by calling 519-667-CARE (2273).”

The initiative is in partnership with local agencies including: London Cares, My Sisters’ Place, the City of London Homeless prevention team, the Salvation Army and the London InterCommunity Health Centre.

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Lockie added that the YMCA stopped taking fees from people when the pandemic hit “because we knew that they may also be heading into a period of financial hardship” but as a result, the Y’s biggest problem is now resourcing the activities they are still offering.

“What I would ask is that if you’d like to support the YMCA right now and you’re in a position to do so and you think that our work is making a difference, to head to our website or give us a call.

“You’d make a big difference by making a donation if you’re able to.”

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