Sleep-out to raise awareness on homelessness
By Aabida Dhanji
Cops work plenty of nightshifts, but a group of off-duty Toronto police officers will be learning what it’s like to sleep in a cardboard box.
This year to raise awareness of homelessness, 11 Division officers are holding a sleep-out on Friday, Nov. 7.
“We thought, ‘What could we do to contribute to lessen the impact of homelessness this coming winter?'” said Superintendent Heinz Kuck of Toronto police 11 Division.
Off-duty officers and social service agency members will be sleeping out on Friday in front of the division with just cardboard and sleeping bags, he said.
Kuck said 11 Division, which covers southwest Toronto, will be collecting winter clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, hats and gloves that will be donated to the West Neighbourhood House to distribute among the area community’s homeless.
“The sleep-out will benefit the local community members, who because of circumstances are put to a position of being homeless,”he said.
“Any activity that supports building awareness about the crisis of homelessness and the need for affordable housing is critically important,” said Maureen Adams, director of advocacy and communications at YWCA Toronto.
Awareness is only step one, she said. Awareness is a good thing, it just needs to link to the action that is necessary to build housing.
“If they bring awareness to the issue and mobilize the public to be concerned about it and if they have a call for more affordable housing then those efforts are great,” said Adams.
“I certainly want people around the city to think about what they can do in kind, in their own community, in their own neighbourhoods, they don’t necessarily need to sleep out,” said Kuck. They can certainly look at a local services agency that deals with poverty and homelessness and maybe donate a pair of warm winter gloves, or socks, or blankets and this way it doesn’t focus on one divisional aspect. It’s city-wide from others reaching out as well.