Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce recently hosted its Christmas lunch at the Midland Hotel in Morecambe, with close to 100 people in attendance. During the event attendees donated to this year’s chosen charity Lancaster and District Homeless Action Service Ltd. (LDHAS). Due to the generosity of local businesses and individuals, £3,500 was raised which included a sizeable donation from Chamber President, Alistair Eagles.
Before lunch guests were treated to a number of speakers including Phil Moore from LDHAS, Steven Cochrane from BOOST Business Lancashire Ltd., and Michael Gibson from Digital Lancashire.
LDHAS is the leading homeless charity in the Lancaster region. They work with people from many varied backgrounds where circumstance has led them to be sleeping rough or struggling to manage their own accommodation. The service is committed to helping people find accommodation and learn the life skills essential for independent living and provide help and support to engage with the job market.
LDHAS operates a day centre based in Edward Street, Lancaster which provides housing advice to the roofless and those in housing poverty. This is done by a dedicated team of staff who work alongside other organisations to provide support.
The ultimate goal of this work is to find suitable long-term accommodation for homeless clients and to equip them with skills needed to sustain a tenancy. Alongside this work, LDHAS also provide for clients’ immediate needs i.e. food, shower and laundry facilities. The food service relies upon one part-time staff member and many dedicated volunteers.
LDHAS also visit clients in their homes in order to enable them to maintain their accommodation. This work assists their client’s by supporting them to learn to set up their own tenancies and to teach them to budget, deal with debts and liaise with various agencies so they are empowered to deal with any issues they may encounter in the future.
Gary Welsh, Centre Manager for LDHAS said: “Homelessness does not discriminate it will happily take anyone it can. The homeless population in England has more than doubled since 2010 and having the support of the local Chamber of Commerce to tackle this problem speaks volumes for their member’s awareness and understanding of this growing issue. Thank you so much for all your support”.
Alistair Eagles, President of the Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce, added: “Homelessness is one of those societal problems that many people see but find very hard to acknowledge exists. Christmas time, especially, is a difficult time for the homeless due to the weather, and the season’s focus being on family and friends. It’s times like these that everyone should dig a little deeper into their pockets to help those less fortunate than us. After all, homelessness knows no class or wealth boundaries.”
LDHAS offers practical and emotional support to homeless people aged 16 and over. In a typical year they have over 1000 visits by people who require varying levels of help and guidance. There is a team of eleven part-time workers.
LDHAS has a project called Homeless to Home (H2H) this is a project funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund. The project focuses on street homeless services users, and the aim is to support them in finding appropriate accommodation and sustaining the tenancy. Another part of the H2H project is to equip clients with the life skills needed to enable them to become independent. One way of achieving this is by offering training, volunteering and education opportunities.
LDHAS offer advice on health, benefits, debt management and substance misuse. In addition to this, they are a referral pathway for many agencies. Their immediate needs service offers breakfast and a hot lunch, food, shower and clothing and laundry.