The Cariboo Friendship Society is keeping its doors open as an extreme weather warning is in effect for B.C.’s Interior. (Greg Sabatino photo)

Williams Lake homeless shelter remains open day and night due to extreme cold

Those in need of a reprieve from the weather can find solace at the Cariboo Friendship Society

Those in need of a reprieve from the extreme cold can find solace at the local homeless shelter at Cariboo Friendship Society in Williams Lake.

With temperatures dipping to around -30C overnight in the lakecity, Norma Mulvahill, who works at the Cariboo Friendship Society, said the centre was completely full.

“We’re filled right up,” Mulvahill said, noting the staff does its best to help people out however it can.

“We just let people come in, and if we see someone who is quite vulnerable we talk to them and tell them to come in, and not stay out.”

READ MORE: Extreme cold warning issued for B.C. Interior, Williams Lake

When extreme weather hits, the CFS keeps its doors open all day long.

“We don’t close the doors, and if people choose to stay in they’re allowed,” she said.

Overnight Saturday Mulvahill said the society’s 30 beds were occupied, and said they put out an additional eight mats, which were in use.

One resident staying at the CFS from the Lower Mainland said the centre was a lifesaver.

“I’ve been here the past three nights, and these people here are all great,” said the man, who wished to remain anonymous.

“I’m drinking so they won’t let me in to any of the other places in town, and, man, everyone here has been so nice.”

And with no Grehound bus service currently in operation, he also said returning home to the Lower Mainland is going to be problematic.

READ MORE: Local homeless shelter grateful for warm clothing donations

Clients who have consumed alcohol can stay at the shelter as long as they are behaved, CFS manager Dustin Westerman has previously told the Tribune.

For anyone struggling with the cold, Mulvahill said the doors are open.

“If you’re cold, come on in,” she said.

“We’ll make room somewhere and we won’t turn anybody away.”

Williams Lake RCMP Insp. Jeff Pelley, meanwhile, said police currently have two members checking high-risk locations or locations where the homeless may frequent in a proactive approach.

“This is to provide assistance to get them to the shelter or address any immediate needs with support agencies,” Pelley said.

“We are fortunate of the local agencies that are already proactive to assist local residents during times of needs such as this cold weather event.”

Pelley added RCMP will continue to provide support and well-being checks to enhance the safety of community members.



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