Union Gospel Mission (UGM) launched a mobile “rescue vehicle” in Abbotsford on Monday to provide survival gear and food to homeless people.
Jeremy Hunka of UGM said the specially outfitted Mobile Mission van is the only dedicated vehicle of its kind in the Abbotsford area.
He said the service finds vulnerable people living on the streets – whether under bridges or in makeshift camps – and provides needed items such as pre-made meals and coffee, warm clothing, hygiene items, sleeping bags and more.
“Homelessness has surged into new places and we need to respond to the spreading need,” Hunka said in a press release.
“The Mobile Mission saves lives. It provides urgent help, and bridges broken situations to programs that rebuild lives. It’s often the first point of contact between homeless guests and services they haven’t yet encountered.”
Hunka said the Mobile Mission will partner with existing Fraser Valley services by connecting guests to shelter, housing, and recovery programs.
The expansion aims to build on the success of UGM’s original Mobile Mission, located in Metro Vancouver, which will continue to operate west of the Fraser River and serve up to 200 people weekly.
“If it weren’t for the Mobile Mission, I may be dead,” said Mobile Mission volunteer Mike Gosling, who was homeless for years before connecting with UGM through the rescue vehicle.
“Having a second Mobile Mission operating in the Fraser Valley is great. My hope is that more people, like me, are saved through this expansion.”
The Fraser Valley Mobile Mission includes a dedicated outreach worker, but new volunteers are needed to help operate the vehicle.
Those interested can sign up online at UGM.ca (click on “take action”).
UGM operates seven locations in Metro Vancouver and in Mission, providing emergency shelter, meals, outreach, addiction recovery and more.