History of Brantford Welcome In Resource Centre

January 2014

For a number years the YMCA in downtown Brantford had emergency shelter beds available for homeless men. At the same time, St. Josephs convent, attached to the St. Joseph's hospital had emergency beds available for women. Both these facilities closed and a void was left in the city for emergency beds for several years.

In 2002 Lauren McDonald an 18 year old St. John’s College student became the chairperson of her church’s social justice committee. Through her initiative two churches in the city opened their doors one on Sunday night and the other on Monday night during the winter. They provided a meal, a place to socialize and a warm place to sleep for the city’s homeless people. The program got underway in the winter of 2002 and 2003. This program ran for 2 years and then lost its initiative due to lack of leadership and volunteers.

A group was formed that called itself B.U.M.P an acronym for Busting Up the Myths of Poverty. This group was intent on “working with other agencies as a catalyst for change in the social conditions that create poverty”. Through their efforts a new initiative was begun which became the Out of the Cold program and has since been incorporated as the Brantford Welcome In Resource Centre.

The current program had it’s start in 2005 when Yeschurch, the old St Michael’s banquet hall opened its doors for cold alerts in December and then opened for every night from the second of January in 2006 until the end of March of that year. The program continued on a three month basis for three more years and then extended by one month until now when it opens on November 1 and closes on May 1 the following year. The hours of operation changed from 9:00 PM until 8:00 AM to the current 7:30 PM until 8:30 AM.

At the beginning the shelter provided limited snacks and cold drinks obtained through the Community Resource Service. The CRS continues to provide many of the provisions used in the shelter but through fundraising and donations from private citizens the shelter now provides a self serve breakfast which includes fresh fruit as well as offering suppers on nights when other community agencies do not.

The shelter has seen growth of guest numbers over its 9 year history. Beginning with 65 people using the shelter for 627 bed nights the first season to the current level of 202 guests and 5,000 bed nights. The current daily guest average is 27 guests per day going up as high as 34 per day in our 39 bed shelter. The records show that the people using the shelter are predominately men by a ratio of 10 to 1.

Structure

Brantford Welcome In Resource Centre also known as Brantford Out of the Cold is a community based winter homeless shelter.

The program is operated by the Executive Director under the direction of a Board of Directors and an Advisory Committee. Along with the Executive Director there are three part time staff and 45 volunteers who deliver the program to our guests and manage the facility and the supplies required.