Welcome to Cathedral Cafe: Warming Centre Expands to Five Days per Week

 on January 12, 2024

An expanded daytime warming centre is launching December 1 and continues until March 31, 2024 at Christ’s Church Cathedral. The Cathedral Café is a collaborative partnership between St. Matthew’s House (SMH) and Christ’s Church Cathedral, with support from Hamilton Out of the Cold and featuring 541 Eatery & Exchange as an additional drop-in site. The project is funded by the City of Hamilton’s winter response program.

Cathedral Café, which operates out of Cathedral Place, located at 252 James Street North, will provide a safe and supportive day time drop-in space for homeless individuals and those at risk of homelessness with a capacity for 40-50 people, Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4 pm. Guests will be able to access seating, warmth, friendly welcoming faces, activities, programs and services, washrooms and food, with the main focus being to provide breakfast and lunch daily and a place to be when the weather turns cold.

Dean Tim Dobbin, rector at Christ’s Church Cathedral, is passionate about the Cathedral Café project. “Connecting with our neighbourhood is in the DNA of our parish; this community is proud of its community engagement,” he says. “Our Cathedral will welcome our guests into our main reception space where they can stay as long as they want. We know many of them by name and have a personal relationship with them. We invite them to our table and try to treat them like family.”

St. Matthew’s House will act as the backbone service provider including overall supervision, staff and volunteer training, project monitoring and reporting, and food security support. SMH will also work in a collaborative partnership with an additional day time drop-in site at 541 Eatery & Exchange, providing access to a mobile support team for this site as it resumes operations after an extended closure. Hamilton Out of the Cold will be helping with food and volunteer support.

“Being able to work with Christ’s Church Cathedral and Hamilton Out of the Cold and our other partners is a gift to SMH,” says Renée Wetselaar, Executive Director, St. Matthew’s House. “Together, we have a commitment to end homelessness in our community. The Cathedral Café gives us a great start.”

Cathedral Place, home to the worship and ministry space of Christ’s Church Cathedral as well as the offices of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara, is a centralized and accessible location on James Street that will provide the space for the drop-in site, volunteer engagement and a staff hub, and includes programming space, auxiliary kitchen space, and washrooms. This drop-in site will be supported by a staff team comprised of a Program Supervisor/Volunteer Coordinator, three housing and food security focused outreach workers for onsite triage and support, a security professional, as well as a rotation of trained volunteers.

St. Matthew’s House is a unique community support agency that provides childcare services and support services to older adults 55+. Many of the people and families that it serves face barriers that it helps them overcome through its programs and services. SMH works in the heart of the Hamilton’s most challenged neighbourhoods, with people facing, on average, the highest rates of poverty in the city. This is associated with the highest rates of ill-health, mental illness and limited education levels.

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