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Saskatoon organizations beef up preparations at warming centres

Saskatoon’s Prairie Harm Reduction is expanding operations to help out those with nowhere to go on winter nights, with some help from the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP).

According to executive director Kayla Demong, in 2022, Prairie Harm was getting between 60 and 80 people on an average night.

“We pushed through the winter, it was incredibly demanding to accommodate the amount of people that were needing space,” she said.

Demong said the model that was in use was unsustainable, but thanks to some funding from SHIP earlier this month, things have improved.

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Per usual, Prairie Harm’s evening warming space closes at 10 p.m., but now, the Salvation Army’s overnight centre opens at a nearby St. Mary’s church.

For the centres, who are anticipating an increase in visitors this year, a change to the model is welcome news.

“We’re learning very quickly that it was a good plan to have, because the number of people has grown immensely this year,” Demong said.

The overnight centre said they are seeing up to 100 people use the facility each night and are unsure about how much higher that number will climb.

“(It) remains to be seen, once the really cold weather and the winter snow-type weather comes, what kind of effect that has,” said Gordon Taylor, Salvation Army Crossroads Residential Services executive director.

The warming services offered will be in effect until the end of March.

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