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Prairie Harm Reduction opens Saskatoon warm-up centre

Saskatoon’s Prairie Harm Reduction has opened an overnight warm-up space for those in need.

Executive Director Kayla DeMong said they’ll be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the Pleasant Hill neighbourhood.

“Allowing people who do not have somewhere to go and who do not have access to somewhere warm overnight … a place to be safe and access to supports,” she told CTV News.

She said they’ve been part of the city’s Cold Weather Strategy for a number of years and have always offered their space if needed.

“We have a space that people already feel comfortable in. It’s already open until 10:30 at night and we would be more than willing to extend those hours. And are very grateful that this year we were able to access funding to do so.”

However, the space is not a shelter, she said.

“There are no beds here. It is just our drop-in centre so people can come in and get food and hang out on the couches or chairs and utilize the space, but it’s not a shelter space.”

The space has accommodated up to 60 people at one time, but there is room for more if needed, DeMong said.

“We can rearrange things to accommodate a few more overnight if need be. We have some overflow space that can be utilized.”

DeMong said they’ve hired new staff and created new positions in preparation for the change.

“We’ve moved around people into new positions to make sure we have all the shifts covered and that we have proper staffing for each of them. It’s been lots of training this week, lots of getting everybody settled and orientated so that we can hit the ground running as quickly as possible.”

She said the space should be open next Wednesday. 

“I’m really grateful that Prairie Harm Reduction is able to fill this need for the community.”

With files from Miriam Valdes-Carletti Top Stories

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