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Recently I had the pleasure to meet with Fred Hagglund, Executive Director, of Mission Services of London.

Let me take a moment of your time to take you along on a reality tour of the Men’s Mission that provides emergency housing. There are 105 men living at the mission which is 130% over capacity. “No room at the inn” for the past four years has been Fred’s constant nemesis.

Notices on the doors reminds you that the dorms are cleaned on Tuesdays. Sheets, towels, blankets are washed once a week in the laundry by the staff. Washers/dryers are provided free of charge to take care of one’s personal clothes.

For those in need of wearing apparel there is the “Clothing Room” stocked with gently used winter coats, gloves, shoes and hats.

The men can stay at the mission for a maximum of 42 days but the average is only 24.The per diem cost is $38.00 with the province paying 80% and the City of London picking up the balance.

Last year the Mission provided 118,381 meals to the residents. Debrann Eastabook , is the kitchen supervisor, who is responsible for providing three nutritious meals daily. The men have three coffee breaks with donuts /muffins. Debrann laughed when she spoke of the lack of a written menu: “anything can change at the drop of a hat or knock on the back door.” Some of the ingredients are purchased but much of the food is donated.

“Londoners owes a thousand thanks to Angelo’s, Victoria Hospital, London Convention Centre, Sobeys, A&P, Loblaws, London Life and the Hellenic centre for their very kind, anonymous contribution of food.” The men of the mission will attest that everyone gets a “cot and a hot” (meal).

Fred wants you to know who these men are:. “45-48% of the residents to-day have some mental health concerns compared to 1990 when only 21% sought shelter at the Mission. The province/ hospital cut backs have put these men who would have been in health treatment centres out on the street to fend for themselves.

“Most of the men have been involved with the criminal justice system.”

“The residents of the mission are a microcosm of society: doctors, lawyers, teachers, clergy and labourers.” “It could be your neighbour , friend, family member. It could even be you that falls into the hole of homelessness and despair.”

In the past the cot and hot solution was the norm. To-day the mandate of the twenty-two staff is to provide short term emergency care while trying to help the men to be independent and return to the community.

“The hope of Mission services is to put themselves out of business. If this is to happen then society has to be more accepting of others. Remember that- “There but for the grace of God there goes I.”

“Your help changes lives.” Please call 433-2807.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com