Friday, 28 October 2016

Lancaster's Christmas Shelter Appeal is launched

Lancaster & District Homeless Action Service (LDHAS) are busy organising our City's Annual Christmas Shelter for Lancaster's homeless people. The hope is that they will be able to offer a warm, safe place to sleep for 5 nights - with cooked breakfast and supper, hot drinks, Christmas Day lunch and small Christmas gifts.

They tell us that without the help and support of the Lancaster community, this would not be possible. Each and every year the support is exceptional, via donations of food, clothing, money and gifts (see below for details of what's needed and how to donate it).

Growing need
This year, there has been a big increase in people needing the service. Many are struggling to cope with the introduction of universal credit, benefit sanctions, health issues, rising living costs, substandard housing and food poverty.

LDHAS are finding themselves increasingly at the ‘front line’ dealing with individuals who have no recourse to statutory services - and where they should be entitled to statutory help, those services are so stretched they fail to cope, leaving people forced to fall back onto charity. LDHAS believe most charities are facing similar challenges.

Despite the daily challenges, the Service is going strong and has had some very positive outcomes: Since December 2015 they have successfully housed 29 people, with 6 of those moving into employment. With the continuing support from local Booths stores, the generosity of their customers has enabled LDHAS to distribute over 250 individual food parcels, and to share the food donations among other local charitable organisations.

So here's a brief round-up of what's happening so far, as donations are beginning to arrive.
We'll keep you up to date with what's happening and what's needed as we go along.

Please donate money!
You can send a cheque payable to LDHAS and post it or drop it into the centre at:
LDHAS, 6 Edward Street, Lancaster LA1 1QH
marked for the attention of Sandra O’Neill / Finance.
You can also donate via online banking:
Account Name: LDHAS
Sort Code: 40-27-02
Account Number: 41393553
Please use reference: “Shelter2016”

If you are making a monetary donation and are a UK tax payer, if you print and sign this Gift Aid declaration and send it to LDHAS they can claim back 25pence for every £1 you donate, from the Inland Revenue.

Warm Winter Clothing
The types of clothing needed are winter weather garments - waterproof coats, jeans, boots and warm underwear - and washing powder for clients' clothes.

Food and Brews
Currently LDHA have been fortunate to receive fresh fruit and vegetables from the harvest festival period, as well as lots of tinned soup, pasta and beans. The items most needed at present are sugar and coffee.

The bedding is sorted, for now at least
Whilst grateful for all donations,  LDHAS don't have a lot of room for storage; at the moment they have full stock of bedding, duvets and blankets.

Call for volunteers
LDHAS really depends on the commitment and energy of terrific volunteers who help so much in keeping the daily service up and running. The Christmas shelter will be needing volunteers to help out in all kinds of ways and you can find out more if you register your interest on their website or sign up for their newsletter using the box at the bottom of their website homepage.

They are really missing long-serving volunteer Nigel, who died in late September. Nigel volunteered for over 20 years - he was the man with the van – helping with food collection and distribution, delivering household items to newly housed clients; helping with setting up the Christmas Shelter.

Nigel's contribution was invaluable and he will be sorely missed by everyone at the Edward Street Centre. It would mean a lot to keep the light of his work burning brightly.

Volunteer Van driver (with Van) needed
If there is anyone who has a reasonably sized van and could spare a couple of days each fortnight and a day before Christmas, please contact LDHAS. You can phone 01524 842008, email: or get in touch via their facebook page or their website.

Call for Trustees
LDHAS are also looking to recruit extra Trustees to join the current team. Meetings take place once every 2 months – usually on the second Monday of the month from 5.30pm and last roughly an hour and a half. If you would like to be involved, and have experience of, or an interest in publicity, fundraising or governance, please email Sandra at for more info.
More importantly LDHAS are in need of a Treasurer, clearly for this role a financial background would help.

If you have a specific project in mind that you feel could bring added value to their existing operations LDHAS would love to hear from you. Likewise if you have a skill set that you feel could benefit the client training team please get in touch.

Upcoming events:
Saturday 19th November brings the Green Party Christmas Fair to the Friends Meeting House in Lancaster  LDHAS will be selling garden ornaments made by clients under the expert and enthusiastic guidance of instructor Diane - certainly one of those ‘ideal Christmas gifts’.
They have also produced the very first LDHAS calendar for 2017- again the product of a photography course run for clients. These are £6 each or 2 for £10, and all proceeds will go towards the service.
If you would like a calendar and can’t make it to the Fair, please contact Hilary on
01524 842008  or

Saturday 26th November : LDHAS Annual Sleep Out. Town Hall Steps Lancaster.
Please contact Gary Welsh for details

Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 December see the LDHA drama group ( Alternative Outcomes) bring their  2016 Production....'After the Floods' to the Dukes stage, with performances at 6pm, 7pm and 8pm (see picture above). Tickets are £5 and can be booked here.
They will also be performing at The Foyer in Morecambe on Wednesday 12 December.
Read Virtual-Lancaster's report on this production here.
The production is booking tour dates around the North West region: for more information contact Hilary or call 01524 842008

LDHAS wish you all a very happy and  peaceful Christmas and best wishes for 2017.
Please take a look at their Facebook page for regular updates or visit their website at where you can also sign up for their occasional newsletter.

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