Photo by ItkasanImages

 

 

Dear Victoria,

Well this is it. The time of year where everyone else in this country gets to point their fingers Westward and say “see… it might be cold here… but at least it’s a dry cold”.

As I write this, the wind outside is getting up to 70km/h, rain is pelting my windows and I’m wondering if my fiancée’s cats will judge me for adding Fireball to my coffee at 11am on a Tuesday. Along with this, the Greater Victoria Emergency Weather Protocol has been activated. Which means that Jen Wilde is going to miss out on a lot of sleep, so that the less fortunate don’t have to.

The idea for this blog came from last Thursday. Once again, the wind and rain whipped in with the reckless abandon of someone deciding to buy your kids a pet monkey for Christmas.

I got home after getting caught in the storm, hair dripping, feet soaked and chilled to the bone. Fortunately a hot shower, fresh socks and a few episodes of Futurama on Netflix later, I was able to feel like myself again. But what if I couldn’t? What if all my creature comforts weren’t available to me? I wanted to know what resources are available to someone living on the street when we are all busy at home battening down the hatches.

I called my friends at Our Place Society, The Salvation Army and Cool-Aid Society, all of whom gave me one name: Jen Wilde.

Jen is the regional director of the Greater Victoria Emergency Weather Protocol. When inclement weather hits and the shelter beds are full, the EWP is activated which opens up additional services to provide over 100 more places to rest. It is a collaboration of dozens of agencies, all working together with the same goal: no one gets left out in the cold. I was fortunate enough to talk to Jen this weekend to get a better look at how this system operates.

If you didn’t have the time to listen to that clip due to excessive hatch battoning, here is a helpful flow chart for you.

ewp flow chart

When one or more of the five criteria in the above chart are met, it becomes all hands on deck to get as many people as possible in from the cold. All throughout the protocol, Jen and her team keep in constant contact with shelters, the city, police and fire departments, ensuring that every organization acts together all in the interest of providing somewhere safe and dry. They also provide an outline of what every shelter needs to have on hand to make sure their clients can be served as best possible.

Think about the logistics of that previous paragraph. Coordinating multiple agencies that deal with thousands of people with a variety of needs, during a weather crisis, in real time. I can’t coordinate my friends to pick a board game to play this weekend, so to me this is superhuman.

Superhuman, but necessary. And in need. So how can we help the GVEWP do their job better? Jen says donations are the easiest and most effective way to make a difference. Socks, blankets, rubber boots, mats or anything warm and dry. Yes, we all admit it’s a wet cold out here. But with your support of the GVEWP it doesn’t need to stay that way.

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