12/07/2013 20:10 EST | Updated 02/06/2014 05:59 EST

Charities reach out in freezing temperatures

Some charities in downtown Vancouver are increasing their outreach as the city continues to experience below freezing temperatures this weekend.

On Saturday, the Union Gospel Mission (UMG) served roughly 160 turkeys for its 73rd annual Christmas dinner.

UGM's President Bill Mollard says the dinner is another way to reach out to those in need.

"We know other people will often have a conversation with our trained outreach workers and those conversations will often lead to emergency shelter or permanent housing," he explained.

"Some will get into our employment programs, and others even into our alcohol and drug recovery programs. So the meal it's a time of celebration, a time of community, but it's a great opportunity for the Union Gospel Mission to create opportunities for change lives."

Mollard said the cold conditions have made things harder for those struggling in the community.

The UGM opened up their drop-in centre and put mats on the floor after their emergency shelters filled up on Friday evening.

Tracy Schonfeld, director of community services at the Coast Mental Health Resource Centre, says they are now open seven days a week.

"As it gets colder outside and people are really struggling, I think what you see is a heightened anxiety and tension amongst people," she said.

"There's just that tense vibe for folks because it puts survival at another level."