Shelters in Saint John relocating clients to maintain social distancing

Crystal Scott has worked with the Coverdale Emergency Women’s Shelter in Saint John for 12 years. In that time, she’s worked through a lot of challenges, but nothing like what she’s seen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Never, ever have I ever seen anything like this,” Scott says.

Both the women’s shelter and the Outflow men’s shelter in the city have temporarily relocated their clients to allow for social distancing.

Outflow is redirecting clients to the Boys and Girls Club on Paul Harris Street, with Coverdale moving clients into a middle school gymnasium.

“The bedrooms are very small here,” Scott says. “So you wouldn’t even be able to really stretch your arms out without touching somebody.”

Scott says staff have already implemented a number of procedures to protect clients and volunteers from falling ill, and that the current location will be used to house any of the clients who may need to self-isolate.

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Coverdale’s shelter is set up inside a townhouse.

There are two sets of bunk beds in two of the bedrooms, and one set in two additional rooms.

Scott says an uptick in clients over the past couple of years has meant they even have women sleeping on the floor at times.

The pandemic has only added to a list of concerns for those already vulnerable women, now being relocated for an indeterminate amount of time.

“We don’t have a time frame,” Scott says, “which is very hard to work with the ladies that are already in a situation where they don’t know what’s coming.”

Scott adds that empty shelves at grocery stores across the city are another concern for the Coverdale staff.

“Toilet paper is definitely something we are going through quickly,” she says.

“As everybody knows – it’s become a big joke and it’s really not a joke to us right now because we’re limited. The stores are limiting us to what we can get.”

Scott says donations of everyday items, such as snacks, food or cleaning products would benefit them in the rapidly changing climate of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I don’t even know if there are any Clorox or Lysol wipes anywhere,” she says, “but we could definitely use those.”

Donations can be dropped off or a pickup can be accommodated in most cases. Arrangements can be made by calling 506-672-6285.

With much left unknown, Scott says one thing is certain: “We’re not going to refuse anybody that’s sick,” she says.

“We have a plan.”

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