Today’s Northumberland got an inside look recently at The Northumberland Warming Hub at St. Peter’s Church in Cobourg.
The Warming Hub opened this year on October 16, 2023 and is a drop-in service for unsheltered residents in need of respite from the cold.
Operated by Transition House Shelter, with municipal and provincial funding through Northumberland County, it will be available from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. seven days a week until the end of April 2024.
Transition House Shelter Board Chair and Acting Executive Director Rev. Neil Ellis gave Today’s Northumberland a look at The Warming Hub.
Immediately going into the large room it has been re-decorated by volunteers to give it a “home” feel to it.
A total of 20 reclining chairs are situated at different locations around the room with each chair having a blanket. Some are facing each other, others are facing a television, while others have been paired off.
Volunteers also brought in items and paintings for the walls.
There is a small area for light refreshments, as well as a larger area for group seating.
Volunteers say that each night around 8 p.m. members who wish to have food sit around a kitchen table and converse.
“It’s been busy,” said Rev. Ellis.
The Warming Hub had only been opened for two days when Today’s Northumberland visited, but each night there had been 18-20 individuals during the evening.
“They haven’t been here all at the same time, but clearly demonstrating there is a need for people to come in, get out of the cold, have something to eat.”
Some of them spend the night and Rev. Ellis said some go back home.
“There are some folks that are probably dealing with food insecurities that are coming for the meals and heading back to wherever they are residing.”
Rev. Ellis said the difference between The Warming Room and Transition House is at Transition House individuals are provided client services.
“You’re coming in as a resident at the House for a prolong stay. We’re working with you. Trying to get everything in order for you in terms in personal items, identification, things like that. Work with you to find permanent housing, employment. Whereas here at The Warming Hub it’s simply just to come in and get out of the elements.”
Rev. Ellis said there are a variety of reasons people may come to The Warming Hub, but don’t choose to access services at Transition House even if the house has some empty beds.
“They might have a service restriction and can’t come to the house, but they can still come here (The Warming Hub).”
“Some people just aren’t comfortable with the space. Some people, regrettably in the past may have had a negative experience with Transition House. Of course we always want to move forward and rectify that.”
At The Warming Hub individuals can come and go through the night, whereas Transition House there is a curfew.
“Both settings are communal living, but at Transition House some of our residents they are working in the morning. So to be woken up at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. by someone coming in late is disruptive to that individual.”
Last year, The Warming Hub had 29 individuals use the facilities in one night, again, not all at the same time, but given the cold weather hasn’t really started, Rev. Ellis said they will have to “adapt.”
“We’ll have to work with our partners, St. Peter’s and the County and if we start to see those numbers climbing, we’ll have to ask the question “what is it we can do to make sure we can accommodate people that they can be safe from the elements?”
A number of agencies and stores helped with the furnishings of The Warming Hub including Petticoat Lane, Thrift and Thrive and Cobourg Police.
The total investment for Northumberland County for the Northumberland Warming Hub which operates from October 16, 2023 to April 30, 2024 is approximately $465,000 which includes facility rental, staffing, supplies and other operational costs.