Lancaster sleep out to help homeless

Lancaster Town Hall.
Lancaster Town Hall.

People are braving the elements in a sleep out on the steps of Lancaster Town Hall to raise awareness of homelessness.

The group are beginning the sleep out at 9pm on Saturday night and plan to stay until 7am Sunday morning.

Staff and volunteers of Lancaster & District Homeless Action Service (LDHAS) and members of the public (including reporter Gemma Sherlock), have donned many layers to brace nearly minus temperatures.

The sleep out is organised by LDHAS, a registered charity, who hold the event every year to raise awareness of the homeless plight in the city and beyond.

Lancaster & District Homeless Action 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.

They work with people from many varied backgrounds where circumstance has led them to be sleeping rough, or struggling to manage their own accommodation.

To donate and support the sleep out please visit here.
Figures from Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, show that one in every 200 people in the UK are homeless.

Currently, there are more than 300,000 homeless people in Great Britain, according to the charity.

Homeless.org figures show in the North West 100 people were sleeping rough in 2010, in 2011, 149 people, in 2012, 147 people, in 2013, 152 people, 189 people in 2014, 220 people in 2015 and 313 people in 2016.

Lancaster City Council’s homeless team is urging people to do the right thing if they spot anyone sleeping rough in the area by using the dedicated homelessness service Streetlink to help bring them in from the cold.

StreetLink is a way of alerting local authorities and specialist services to someone who may be in desperate need of help, whatever the time of day or night.

A dedicated team of city council staff are on standby 24/7 to respond to alerts and offer on the spot support and advice as well as making arrangements to get them off the street and into temporary accommodation during periods of sub-zero temperatures.

Although some rough sleepers are already known to the team, there can be others new to the district which remain unnoticed, bedding down at different times of day or night, and moving from place to place.

Coun Andrew Warriner, Cabinet member with responsibility for health and housing, said: “Although we don’t have the number of rough sleepers you might see in other towns and cities but one is one too many, the council remains committed to ensuring no-one on its patch spends a second night out on the street. In time, this way of living can lead to people becoming victims of crime, developing drug or alcohol problems and in minus temperatures could lead to illness and even death.

“If you’re concerned about someone sleeping rough, the best thing you can do is to report what you have seen to Street Link so that our specialist team of staff can bring them in out of the cold and connect them to other local services which can get them back on their feet.“

You can contact StreetLink by telephoning the 24/7 StreetLink phone line 0300 500 0914 or report your concerns using the StreetLink website www.streetlink.org.uk.

Alternatively you can download the StreetLink App from the iTunes or Google Market store free of charge. Alternatively, at evenings and weekends you can call Lancaster City Council’s out of hours service tel. 01524 67099.

More to come.