The number of people accessing services at Lancaster’s homeless centre is on the rise, says the charity’s centre manager.
Phil Moore, from Lancaster and District Homeless Action Service (LDHAS), said that the charity lost £90,000 a year in funding from the Big Lottery in March this year, meaning the centre has had to reduce staff, whilst it continues to see an increase in people in need.
Despite the challenges, LDHAS will still hold its annual sleepout on the steps of Lancaster Town Hall on Nocember 17, and will provide a Christmas shelter between Christmas Eve and December 29 at St Thomas’ Church Hall in Marton Street.
Phil said the shelter offers “a warm, friendly and welcoming environment, food, companionship, and a safe and comfortable place to sleep”.
He said: “As the numbers of homeless people continue it is increasingly important to highlight their plight.
“Every year we organise our annual sleepout to raise awareness.
“Homelessness is on the rise both locally and nationally.
“Many people are only one or two pay cheques away from being homeless and the roll out of Universal Credit, which is not generally popular with landlords, has made it increasingly difficult to house people.
“Despite this, we housed 66 people during the last financial year; a rise from the previous year when the figure was 43.” The sleepout will see volunteers getting sponsored to sleep out for one night, with the money raised helping to support LDHAS.
Phil said: “Our main goal is to support people into accommodation.
“We also provide breakfast and lunch for homeless people and those who are vulnerably housed.
“Service users are also able to have showers, wash clothes, use the telephone and computers and be provided with a ‘care of’ address.
“We continue to work hard to secure grant funding for the future development of the service.
“LDHAS is the only organisation in the area offering the range of services we provide.
“There is no appointment system and service users receive support from our staff and volunteers upon arrival.”
LDHAS is holding its Annual General Meeting at the centre in Edward Street on Monday November 12 at 5.30pm.
All are welcome to attend the meeting and the charity is encouraging volunteers to come forward.
LDHAS’ five year tranche of Big Lottery funding expired in March this year. This represented a drop in income of over £90,000 per year. Prior to March it had nine staff, which has now been reduced to seven. Overall, there has been a 30 per cent cut in funding, and those staff who remain have had their hours reduced. LDHAS said it is able to continue for the time-being by drawing on its reserves; but these are not inexhaustible.