Volunteers with The Salvation Army gave out water and hot meals of macaroni and cheese at the tent encampment in Bannerman Park on Monday evening. (Chelsea Jacobs/CBC)
A resident of the Bannerman Park tent encampment says community support is keeping people going as they fight for a safe place to live.
The Salvation Army were at the encampment Monday evening serving hot meals of macaroni and cheese as temperatures neared the freezing point. Two people moved into the encampment on Monday, bringing the total number of residents to 30.
Jamie Locke, the divisional secretary for public relations in Newfoundland and Labrador, said it was important for volunteers to connect with residents of the encampment to see where they can help moving forward.
"I'm sure [a meal] will be appreciated, but again it's not a solution to the problems …they are experiencing. And not only them, that we are experiencing, collectively, as a society," Locke said.
"Homelessness isn't a new issue, it's just becoming more and more visible in our communities."
The Salvation Army operates the Ches Penney Centre for Hope in St. John's, which offers transitional housing and an emergency shelter. Locke said volunteers at the shelter are serving around 250 meals per day.
Nicole Noble is living at the tent encampment, and says the community support goes a long way. (Chelsea Jacobs/CBC)
Nicole Noble lives in the encampment, and said the support from the community goes a long way.
"I actually started crying when I seen them pull up," Noble said. "It's amazing, the help that we are getting…I felt like giving up. Not only on myself, but on everyone else."
The Bannerman Park encampment was set up on the heels of another, high-profile encampment on Confederation Hill. That encampment, exposed to high winds, gradually dissolved as the fall weather got colder, and people who could not access housing elsewhere sought shelter in the Bannerman trees.
Monday night's meals came just hours after Memorial University students protested outside St. John's City Hall, calling on the city to keep the park's bathrooms open after 8 p.m. for residents of the encampment. Noble said Monday evening residents were going to try and make sure that happens.
Billy Butler came to the encampment to show support on Monday night. Butler was living at the Safe Haven Shelter on St. Clare Avenue, but now works there after he was able to find a place to live.
"We're out here froze to death and trying to support these people that are staying here in the tents," Butler said.
"I came down here to see what was on the go, and wow. It's just as bad here as it is in the shelter. Or worse."