Outreach workers host Connect Day during Homelessness Action Week

WHALLEY — From food to haircuts to vet care for pets, the Surrey Urban Mission is bringing services together under one roof for the eighth annual Connect Day this Wednesday (Oct. 15) for those in need.

“It’s for people who are living in poverty, to come and connect to a variety of different resources they may not be connected to on a regular basis,” said the mission’s executive director Jonquil Hallgate. “Often if you don’t have extra pennies, these are the types of things you skip.”

Connect Day is held in conjunction with Homelessness Action Week, which runs from Oct. 12 to 18, and is sponsored by a number of bodies.

For Hallgate, the event is about being a good neighbour, as well as raising awareness.

“It helps keep the issue of homelessness and poverty out in the forefront,” she said.

In addition to providing food and personal services, the event will feature resources such as health care, flu shots, service providers and more.

Though in its eighth year, this is the second Connect Day hosted at the mission’s new location at 108th Avenue and King George Blvd.

The new location is working out well, Hallgate said.

“We’re way more noticeable on this corner,” she noted.

The mission has seen an increase in terms of volunteers as well as users of its services.

“It’s huge. Before, a maximum number we would see at a meal would be 120. Now we see up to 300,” Hallgate said. “And we’re serving five meals a week.”

She believes that increase is due to being more visible, but also due to an increase in those that require their services.

“It’s just a sign of the times. A lot of people are really struggling, rents are high and people don’t have a lot of spare income…. Often there’s not money left for food,” she said, explaining that while many might assume the people the mission caters to are homeless, that’s actually the minority of the people it helps.

Many seeking its services are parents with young children, families struggling to make ends meet and newcomers or refugees – people living in poverty or on the brink of homelessness.

And as the winter months draw nearer, Hallgate said tougher times lie ahead for those who are homeless.

“When it’s nice out people maybe have some options,” she noted, adding that demand for the mission’s services increase in the colder months.

The mission takes part in the Extreme Weather Response program, which runs from November to March, and is called to action when weather conditions become dire.

She said the mission can see up to 100 people a night during those times, and that the organization is always in need of donations such as warm clothes, toques and gloves.

Connect Day will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 15 at the Surrey Urban Mission, located at 10776 King George Blvd.

@amyreid87

areid@thenownewspaper.com

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