Inn from the Cold

For families going through the stress and trauma of being homeless or who are at imminent risk of homelessness, we offer emergency shelter and the programs and supports required so they can begin to stabilize and rebuild their lives.

Our Story Why We Exist

Patricia*, mother of five, had a very difficult upbringing filled with trauma, addiction, and abuse. Her children have been apprehended by Child and Family Services three times throughout their lives. Patricia was in an extremely abusive relationship and addicted to alcohol. It was time to change.

Determined to create a better life for herself and her five children, Patricia found the courage to leave this abusive relationship and address her own problems with alcohol. She and her children came to Calgary to find a better life... With the Inn’s facilitation, Patricia completed a residential treatment program for alcoholism, numerous parenting courses, extensive counselling, and she experienced a lot of personal growth. Her children were returned to her care and this family is doing well in a home of their own.

Patricia started school in September 2014 and hopes to become a youth worker. She recently remarried; her children’s stepfather is described as a ‘supportive, wonderful guy’ who has stable employment.

This family no longer has ANY involvement with Child and Family Services at all – practically unheard of!  We are happy to see this brave family living the life they deserve. In helping to provide a safe and affordable home, your support will give many other families, like Patricia’s, the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness, and to rebuild their lives in a new home.

*name changed for privacy purposes

When families arrive at the Inn, they are scared, uncertain and hungry. They come at all hours of the day and night, with little more than they can carry and occasionally, with only their pajamas as clothing. Inn from the Cold staff jump to action immediately. After the registration and assessment process is complete, the family transitions to their sleeping accommodations in our emergency family shelter. They are given new clothing, toiletries, blankets, sheets and each child is given a toy. And this is only the very beginning of the support that we offer families…

During the bitterly cold winter of 1996/7, St. Stephen’s Anglican Church opened its doors to provide shelter and hope to Calgary’s homeless families and others in need. In October 2008, Inn from the Cold opened Calgary’s first Emergency Family Shelter, located in the heart of the Beltline community. For families going through the stress and trauma of being homeless or who are at imminent risk of homelessness, the Inn offers the programs and supports required so they can begin to stabilize and rebuild their lives. 

Our Impact What We Do

Our mission is to provide emergency shelter, support and programs to homeless children, their families and others in need, with the goal of building healthy, stable families and ending homelessness. Our vision is a community where no family is homeless. We are our community’s response to families in need of support, housing and hope during times of crisis. Our priority is to help families find safe, affordable and appropriate housing.

In 2014, over 2,200 individuals have sought shelter services at the Inn, of which 1,244 were children. This statistic reveals a drastic 130% increase in the demand for services over 2013. For the hundreds of families seeking shelter at the Inn, there is simply nowhere else to go. The need for support is greater than ever before.

The growth of family homelessness provincially and nationally has been a central issue for planning, discussion, and response since 2011, but a number of significant contextual factors have contributed to moving this from concern to crisis. There are many reasons why Calgary families become homeless, but lack of affordable, appropriate housing is the leading cause. Rising cost of living, divorce, job-loss, physical and mental health issues, generational cycles, vulnerable populations, abuse and addictions can all be contributing factors. Every story is different, but enhanced assessments delivered through a new assessment and triage program indicate that a majority of our guests are high acuity, suffering from a complexity of needs that have led them and their families to become homeless.

Of the families served in 2014, 75% of guests were first-time shelter users and 12% of respondents identified as chronically homeless. 

Our Programs How We Do It

We offer shelter to children and families, and develop programs that aim to bring an end to the vicious cycle of homelessness. We support guests and their children to take important steps towards creating better futures by engaging them in intensive case management services and onsite programming. These programs range from an onsite Student Run Clinic to the Early Childhood Development program, which intervenes at an early stage to help stop homeless children from becoming homeless adults.

As Calgary's original and largest emergency family shelter, we provide critical frontline services & intervention, including:

  • 24/7 emergency family shelter;
  • a community-based emergency shelter program;
  • coordinated & specialized onsite programming; and
  • innovative assessment and case management services not duplicated elsewhere.

Family homelessness is a serious and complex issue. As front-line service providers, we understand the unique challenges and risks that homeless families encounter. In consort with the Calgary Homeless Foundation’s (CHF) 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, we are working with community partners and colleagues to reduce these risks, create new strategies and ensure services are not duplicated.

In assessing and triaging clients to determine appropriate services within IFTC and also appropriate referrals to service provision partners out in the community, we seek to ensure highest standard of service, safety, and security for both clients and staff/volunteers. Frequently the severity and complexity of issues faced by the family goes far beyond simply not having a home and therefore the supports need to be equal to addressing those. Predominant challenges identified through assessment processes include:

  • Severe mental health diagnoses or indicators
  • Significant developmental delays and/or cognitive impairment
  • Active addictions
  • Severe physical health diagnoses or contagious conditions
  • Serious physical disabilities
  • Active domestic violence or threat of retaliation due to leaving a domestic conflict
  • Criminal history
  • Active investigation for child abuse/neglect (CFSA)

Due to the holistic and ongoing support we provide after placing families in permanent housing, Inn from the Cold has one of the lowest recidivism rates in Calgary. We are constantly working to develop and innovate best practice methods to not only place our families into homes, but also to support them to stay in their home and not fall back into the cycle of homelessness. 

Our Requests What You Can Do

Volunteering to serve suppers and lunches at Inn From The Cold has made my daughters learn that homelessness can happen to anyone and homeless people aren’t different. My children enjoy serving the food, working in the kitchen and most of all talking to the kids at the shelter.” - Lisa B., Volunteer

There are many ways for you to get involved to support the Inn!

Volunteer!   We have a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for both groups and individuals, in everything from storytelling and playtime with the kids, to serving meals to our families, from sorting donations to helping out at our annual Gala. Check out our Current Volunteer Opportunities page for more information:

  • Engage with our children and youth. Lead your own activity or support one of our Early Childhood Development programs. Whether you’re making crafts, reading books, or strumming a guitar for music class, you can have a positive and meaningful impact on our young guests and the quality of their stay in shelter.
  • Promote the Inn! Assist with a range of events from in-house galas and open houses, third party fund raisers, or small grassroots donation drives. Have fun and meet new people, while making a difference in your community.
  • Help keep order in our busy donations room. Support us by sorting, organizing, or processing in-kind donations received. As a result, our families are better supported and provided the essential items which many families come to the Inn without.
  • Contribute to bringing healthy, hearty and delicious meals to our families. Daily meal services are a popular draw for Inn volunteers, and for good reason! You’ll not only be a part of preparing and serving meals, you’ll also have the chance to share the meal and visit with guests.

Learn more about the many ways that you or your group can get volunteering with the Inn at:


  • The critical needs of our shelter are constantly changing, please donate undesignated funds so that we are able to purchase items as needed.
  • Join the Inn Crowd! Consistent monthly donations allow our organisation to plan ahead and reduce costs.
  • Maximise your generosity – check with your employer to see if they will provide a matching donation, or donate during one of our matching campaigns.
  • Donate what is needed most - We keep a current list on our website with our Top 5 Needs for donated items.

Learn more about options to donate to support the Inn at:


  • Follow the Inn on our website, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Share our content with you friends, family and colleagues
  • Be an ambassador; use your knowledge to educate others and combat bias and discrimination towards the homeless
  • Reach out to your children’s school, your church, your employer – by spreading your message you can help us raise awareness about family homelessness
  • Take the opportunity to ensure that child and family homelessness remains a priority issue for your elected officials at all levels

In addition to the above ways to advocate for the Inn, take a peek at this link if you thinking about hosting an event to support the Inn:


Janeen Webb
Director Donor Relations
Charitable Number: 870823648RR0001

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