Anybody facing the prospect of homelessness this Christmas is being urged to seek help from South Lakeland District Council sooner rather than later.
A phone call to the council’s Housing Options Team on 01539 733333 is the first step for anyone at risk of losing their home, no matter what the time of year – and the council is reminding people that emergency support continues to be available during the festive season.
Councillor Suzie Pye, South Lakeland District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing and Poverty Alleviation, said: “At this time of year it’s always a balance between making sure our residents are well cared for and also ensuring that our colleagues don’t miss out on time with their loved ones over the Christmas holidays.
“Fortunately we have a fantastic team of support workers who are completely dedicated to their roles at Town View Fields.
“The work can be challenging but they think nothing of turning out on cold winter’s nights when it’s their turn for sleeping-in shifts on the rota.
“Others will volunteer to work on Christmas Day, for example, so that their workmates who have children can have the day off, and also because they want to be there for the residents.”
Colleagues in the Housing Options Team work to prevent people become homeless in the first place wherever possible.
The council also runs a homeless hostel in Kendal providing basic emergency accommodation for those who are referred there because they literally have nowhere left to turn.
Town View Fields Hostel is staffed by a team of support workers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
They serve some of the most vulnerable members of the community, many of whom have complex physical, emotional and mental health needs.
As in previous years, this Christmas and New Year will see the 41-bed, 18-room hostel staffed by dedicated South Lakeland District Council staff working day and night to ensure residents are safe and have the support they need.
Councillor Pye added: “Nobody chooses to be homeless at Christmas and 25 December can be a very difficult day if you feel you have lost everything.
“As a team and with help from amazing local organisations such as King’s Food Bank and many others, we are all doing our best to help our residents get to a point where they will have a secure roof over their heads by next Christmas.”
The men and women who are referred to the hostel as a last resort by the council’s Housing Options Team are given time to recuperate from the upheaval of becoming homeless before the work begins to help them back towards living independently.
Meanwhile, the council is making a concerted effort to reach the 50 or so people who are thought to be “sofa surfing” across South Lakeland this winter, partly due to the cost of living crisis.
It is running regular outreach sessions for people at risk of homelessness and is also working with Cumbria Police and Kendal housing advice charity Manna House to place posters in shop windows this festive season to make sure people know who to call if they are at risk.
Councillor Helen Chaffey, South Lakeland District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “Although they are not classed as homeless in the official figures, people who are reliant on the goodwill of family and friends to sleep on their sofa are in a very vulnerable position.
“They have no long-term security.
“The outreach sessions that are being run by our Rough Sleep Coordinator, Mikey Keefe, are designed to help people in this plight get the support they need to find and keep accommodation.
“Mikey’s role is to prevent anyone from finding themselves in the desperate situation of sleeping rough.
“There are people in our communities who really struggle to fulfil the basic requirements of a housing tenancy agreement and who desperately need help to achieve this.
“Together with support from lots of different agencies we can help people to turn their lives around and find a home.
“It can be a long and challenging journey but the reward is seeing someone leaving behind years of insecurity and getting the key to their own front door.”
The outreach sessions include:
- Thursdays, 1pm-3pm, South Lakes Foyer, Kendal – homelessness prevention outreach drop-in sessions.
- Fridays, 10am-12pm, Manna House, Kendal – support and advice.
A further outreach session to support those in difficulties with housing and or alcohol – substance misuse is also being arranged in partnership with recovery charity The Well Communities.