Volunteers quit over safety concerns at Chatham men's shelter
A homeless shelter for men in Chatham-Kent is in need of donations and volunteers.
Chatham Hope Haven has only been open for about four months, but it’s operating at full capacity.
Director Joe Simpson tells CTV News volunteers often have to turn people away.
But Simpson is also dealing with another issue – volunteers who are leaving the shelter because they say it’s not safe to stay.
John Kuipers is one of the staff members at the shelter. He is paid eight hours a week, and volunteers for 12 more hours each week. Kuipers says he’s not concerned about his safety, but others have and they have decided to leave the shelter.
“There’s a lot of anger issues with some people and they don’t get along, and sometimes you have to get the police involved,” says Kuipers. “When they get angry, volunteers get afraid of that.”
There are 24 volunteers at the shelter, and Simpson says at least another four people are needed to watch over the 10 men who sleep there each night.
“We have not had major issues and we don’t want any,” says Simpson. “My number one priority is the safety of my volunteers.”
Simpson just had a $3,200 security system installed this week, but he still has to pay the bill.
The shelter is funded almost entirely through donations, and not just for security. Money is needed to upgrade the fire alarm system so an additional 30 beds can be added.
Until Hope Haven opened, Chatham-Kent was the only city with over 20,000 people without a 24-hour men’s shelter.
The shelter is also in need of food, clothing and hygiene products.