As temperatures in the Okanagan climb past the 30-degree mark, a heat warning for the Interior was issued, and the gospel mission is working to get water and food to people both outside and in the shelter.
“Our people who are living unhoused are very sick and the heat doesn’t help. We’re seeing infections, bug bites, sunburns and all of these things are just making people living outside, miserable,” said Carmen Rempel, Kelowna’s Gospel Mission executive director.
“Our outreach team goes out onto the streets seven days a week and in this last week alone we’re feeding between 100 and 190 people every day.”
According to the Ambulance-Paramedics Union of BC, those experiencing homelessness are some of the most vulnerable to the heat.
“They’re more susceptible to the heat-related injuries like heat cramps, heat exposures and some of those can be life-threatening as you know,” said Troy Clifford of the Ambulance-Paramedics Union.
Rempel says the unhoused population is doing its best to brave the heat.
“People who are living unhoused are an incredibly resilient group of people but it is heartbreaking. We try to bring that little bit of hope,” said Rempel.
The gospel mission is now seeing an unprecedented number of people seeking its services, especially in the summer months.
“It’s discouraging. Our sector is extraordinary — we don’t work alone, we work with many partners and we’re providing more services and doing a better job at providing those services than ever before and we’re not winning,” said Rempel.
During a heat warning, Interior Health advises residents to drink plenty of water, be aware of signs of overheating including dizziness or feeling unwell, and wear sunscreen.
The gospel mission is urging residents to donate cool clothing like tank tops, underwear, and hats.
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