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Security covered as shelter opens

Security for both women and residents is a key element at Vernon’s newest emergency shelter.

A 15-bed women’s shelter opened at the Salvation Army Church Saturday and funding from the provincial government includes security.

“This needs to be a safe place for women,” said Ann Forrest, with the Women’s Centre, which is operating the shelter.

Shelter staff and the RCMP will keep an eye out for individuals who may prey on the homeless.

And while some nearby neighbours may be concerned about having a shelter in the area, Forrest says there’s no need to worry.

“We’ve run a drop-in centre for years and we’ve never had a security issue,” she said, adding that the goal will be to operate a shelter that is not only safe but clean outside.

Doors to the shelter will open at 8 p.m. nightly, with no one able to enter or leave after 11 p.m. Women will vacate the premises at 8 a.m. the following morning.

During the day, clients will be able to access drop-in services at the Women’s Centre including laundry and shower.

While funding is in place for staffing and some operational costs, there are no extras for much needed capital equipment.

Currently, the shelter requires a commercial washer and dryer.

“They need to be that size because of the volume of laundry involved,” said Forrest.

Also required are a stand-up freezer and a refrigerator.

Financial donations can be dropped off at the Women’s Centre, and contributions of laundry soap are also being sought, as well as shampoo, toothpaste and personal hygiene products.

Forrest says there’s only been positive feedback about the shelter opening.

“The level of excitement in the community is shocking. There’s a new level of participation,” she said.

The shelter at the Salvation Army is temporary while service providers try and secure a site for a permanent facility.

It’s hoped a permanent shelter could be operating by next spring.

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