a shelter visitor and a case manager having a conversation

Taking a First Step in Safety

September 27, 2022 Stories

How Shelter Gives People Space for Transformation

Transformation doesn’t always begin with a bang. More often than not, the first step on the path to change is something small. A meal, a clean pair of socks, a bed.

It’s this ethos of small beginnings that is at the heart of UGM’s Shelter. “We want to do things well, and in a way that honours people,” says Demetrius, UGM’s Case Management & Shelter Supervisor. For UGM staff, this means treating each person who seeks shelter with dignity and care. “From an anti-oppressive viewpoint, we want to make sure that the Shelter is not continuing people’s marginalization, but instead is actually supporting them in their lives.” 

a shelter visitor holding towel and other necessities

Because of Vancouver's rising costs of living and shortage of affordable housing, the demand for shelter is greater than ever in the Downtown Eastside. But at UGM's 601 East Hastings facility, your ongoing support is offering up to 92 people shelter, safety, and care every single night. After being welcomed in and shown their bed, Shelter visitors can have a warm shower, do their laundry, and experience peace of mind by safely storing their belongings. In the morning, they're encouraged to stay for coffee and breakfast in our dining hall, and can connect with Case Managers to access any resources they need, whether it be toiletries, clothing, housing, or help with personal details like IDs and finances.

“Knowing I had a nutritious meal, safe shelter, and solid Christian fellowship to rely on at UGM helped me cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
— Luc, Community Member and Former Shelter Visitor

a case manager handing towel and other necessities to a shelter visitor

Shelter works best when it can act as a stepping stone for people, and every day, Demetrius sees stories of hope. “Recently, we had a gentleman in the shelter who didn’t ask for support. We offered! But he declined; he was a very private person. He stayed at the shelter for most of the pandemic. Last week, he pulled a few staff aside to say, ‘If I’m gone by the end of the month, that means I got my own place.’ And that was so great, because we were concerned he was stuck. But you never know what’s going on in the background. People are moving towards what they need; they’re changing their own lives.” 

2022 Shelter Stats

UGM’s Shelter is only possible thanks to generous donors like you. Here’s the impact you’ve made through Shelter so far this year.*

  • Bags of laundry washed: 2,154
  • People receiving clothing: 303
  • Supportive conversations: 431
  • Nights of safe sleep: 19,912

By providing clean clothing, shelter, and shower facilities, you’re honouring the humanity of people experiencing homelessness. Thank you for inviting your neighbours in, and giving them an opportunity to rest and build life-changing relationships.

*January–July 2022