WHALLEY — For the first time in years, NightShift Street Ministries is opening its doors overnight to offer shelter during the cold months, and the beds are exclusively for women.
Founder MaryAnne Connor said the move is in response to an increased number of women on the street.
“We’re seeing more and more every day and also an increase in youth,” she told the Now.
“We’re very happy to do so especially as it’s exclusively for women. As you well know, women are very vulnerable and not safe out there,” Connor added. “We want to extend NightShift’s outreach services and gather women in for an extra heaping of love and warmth.”
To run the extreme weather shelter, NightShift is partnering with Elizabeth Fry Society. If all goes well, Connor said she hopes to open a “Care Cottage” for women sometime next year.
To support the winter shelter beds, Connor said the organization is in the process of developing a Women’s Drop-In Program during daytime hours.
“We’ve just completed a specialized volunteer training program for women and hope to be opening this program soon,” she said. “It’s been a dream of mine to open a women’s shelter and daytime drop-in.”
NEARLY 100 EXTREME WEATHER BEDS OPEN
Surrey and White Rock extreme weather shelters were called to open on Sunday (Dec. 4). All told, there are 95 spots available this year, if needed – NightShift with 15 beds, Surrey Urban Mission with 20, Lookout with 30 and another 30 in Cloverdale and South Surrey.
These beds are in addition to the city’s permanent shelters.
Click here for more information about the extreme weather program.
While the emergency program officially runs from Nov. 1 to March 31, it was called to open early this year during an October storm.
“We usually start in November and get about four or five days, but it started early,” Peter Fedos, Surrey-White Rock extreme weather program manager, said at the time. “So everybody kind of jumped. Frontline staff jumped and got it done. It was awesome. But the City of Surrey, BC Housing and the frontline folks all deserve credit.”