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Union Gospel Mission braces for cold weather; offers special emergency kits

Vancouver, BC—Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission (UGM) is bracing for what may be the coldest winter in decades by increasing shelter staff, opening extra areas of the Mission for shelter space, and distributing special emergency kits to those who refuse offers to come inside.

Shelter already at capacity

“We’ve already exceeded our usual shelter limit of 37 guests every day this last week, with 45 on most days,” says UGM Senior Chaplain Bruce Curtiss. “As the temperature begins to dip below zero, we’re ready for up to 60 people in the shelter, and have added an extra shelter worker in the evening. Our goal is to not turn anyone away.” UGM is ready to use hallways or classrooms to shelter people if necessary.

15,000 pairs of socks to be given away throughout the winter

UGM will be outfitting shelter and meal guests with new socks each day. “When you’re on your feet all day in the slush and don’t have access to waterproof footwear or laundry facilities, terrible things can happen to your feet,” says Curtiss. “A new pair of socks can literally save your feet from frostbite or other ailments.” Union Gospel Mission has already given away 4000 pairs of socks since Thanksgiving, and expects to give another 11,000 pairs before the end of winter.

Survival kit for those living on the street

And for those who simply refuse offers to come inside, the Mission has prepared special emergency kits. Outreach workers will offer the kits on street-walks and through the UGM’s Mobile Mission van, which searches for homeless individuals who are out-of-site, offering help to those living under bridges, behind warehouses, and in parking garages throughout Metro Vancouver.


Each kit will include:

  • Waterproof thermal blanket: These sturdy blankets won’t be ruined in the rain and can therefore be used over and over.
  • LED Flashlight: A small rubber-covered flashlight, which may cut down on use of dangerous candles for light
  • Lightweight Poncho: Waterproof and brightly-coloured, to keep a sleeping person both dry and visible 
  • Thinsulate Gloves and Socks: To prevent frostbite
  • Thinsulate Toque: For warmth 
  • The kit will come in a sturdy tote bag, which will be useful for transporting the kit or other goods.
“This is essentially a survival kit, and it may mean the difference between life and death for the most entrenched homeless,” says Curtiss. “We don’t want to see anybody lose their life in the cold.”

Donations help

UGM is expecting to incur extra costs because of the cold weather. Monetary donations are gratefully accepted via or by calling 604.253.3323.

About UGM

Union Gospel Mission has been reaching hungry, hurting, and homeless men, women, youth, and children for nearly 70 years. Through its 8 locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken, and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. UGM is a proud member of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities. To find out more, visit