Every year Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce chooses a charity to support as their Charity of The Year. This year the chosen charity is Lancaster and District Homeless Action Service Ltd. (LDHAS).
LDHAS is the leading homeless charity in the Lancaster region. They work primarily with street homeless people and ‘sofa surfers’ (people temporarily accommodated by family or friends). There are various reasons why people become homeless; mental health, relationship breakdown and substance use are particularly prominent issues amongst the client group. The situation in Lancaster and Morecambe is a microcosm of the national picture.
The service is committed to helping people find accommodation and to advocate on their behalf when necessary with a range of organisations such as the DWP, utility companies, landlords and letting agents. Alongside this work, LDHAS also provide for clients’ immediate needs, i.e. food, shower and laundry facilities. The food service, which provides breakfast and lunch for the street homeless, relies upon one part-time staff member supported by dedicated volunteers.
LDHAS also endeavours to support clients in their homes when necessary in order to enable them to maintain their accommodation; although this is becoming increasingly difficult to support with diminishing staff resources. However, in 2017 over 50 people were supported into accommodation. On an average day, breakfast and lunch is provided for 12 people and there is a daily average footfall of about 20 clients.
Phil Moore, Centre Manager for LDHAS, said: “Homelessness does not discriminate between individuals; many people are only one or two pay cheques away from homelessness. The homeless population in England has more than doubled since 2010 and having the support of the local Chamber of Commerce raises our profile and it is also good to know that the wider business community is aware of the plight of local homeless people and what is being done about it. We thank you for 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. This is the second year the Chamber has supported as our Charity of The Year. Society must be judged by more than what it produces and how many holidays we have each year. We must reach out to those less-fortunate and understand that homelessness could and does affect, anyone, regardless of their status in life.”