Winter is on its inevitable way to Winnipeg, and with colder conditions comes a heavy impact on the city’s homeless population.
The Main Street Project, which has been actively helping Winnipeg’s vulnerable populations for more than four decades, is preparing for the increased need, especially while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the province.
“We’re fortunate that we’ve had a really nice November, but the winter always impacts our agency and COVID has impacted us immensely, particularly with this second wave,” Anastasia Ziprick, Main Street Project’s director of development, told Global News.
“We’re ramping up our services. We were able to expand our shelter services in April, we’ve recently had to expand our isolation services just to make sure we’re adequately able to take care of everybody.
“When you think about isolating at home — the hand hygiene and public health guidelines we’re expected to follow — it’s really difficult for people to follow when they don’t have access to bathrooms or a safe space.”
Ziprick said the project’s expansion into the former Mitchell Fabrics space is only weeks away from opening, which will provide a 24/7 drop-in site with bathrooms and sleeping space.
“When we get closer to the holidays, we’re actually going to have about 500 people sleeping with us over the holidays,” she said.
“One of the things that we’re doing that’s kind of special is a holiday gift drive. We’re putting together approximately 500 gift bags so that folks who are staying with us over the holidays have a gift to open up on Christmas Day.”
Ziprick said the community support has been encouraging, especially given the impact of the pandemic on the city and province as a whole.
“Every day there’s something that warms our hearts. We still have a lot of volunteers that are helping out our essential services. … The response has been immense.
“The support from our small businesses — most of whom, as everyone knows, are suffering greatly — they continue to help us out even though they’re suffering.”
Information on how to donate can be found at the Main Street Project’s website.