La Ronge’s Scattered Site Outreach Program has stopped its overnight program for the summer.

The program lets people without a place to stay sleep at the facility and usually runs from November to March.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Scattered Site continued their night program until May 31 this year.

Now that clients aren’t able to stay at the facility, Jackie Ballantyne, who oversees the outreach and night programs, says she’s worried more people will be staying outside overnight.

“My big thing is that a lot of the places they would be able to access have been closed to them,” she said. “Some of them were able to stay at relatives before but because of the amount of folks in enclosed spaces, they aren’t able to access a floor or a couch to stay on.”

Ballantyne said the program has also found it difficult to help clients because many of the organizations they work with are closed.

“We could do some counselling, some referrals, but a lot of the referral agencies are shut down too, so it’s been a really difficult time for these folks.”

However, she said the community has helped a lot by donating various items to the program, including tents and tarps so people without a place to stay can still feel some sort of safety at night.

“We feel that we have been really blessed by this community in the toughest time that we’ve had since the evacuations (due to fire in 2015). People have been generous. People have been kind and it just shows that when the going gets tough, the tough get kinder.”

Ballantyne said they are now looking for a used washing machine in reasonable condition or monetary donations that can be used toward buying one.

She said the laundry machine they had been using broke down after so much use during the pandemic.

(PHOTO: Scattered Site Outreach Program. File photo.)