Green councillor leads on initiative to help former rough sleepers

19 February 2021

Green Cabinet member for Housing, Caroline Jackson has helped launch a scheme called Street Aid in Lancaster and Morecambe.

Street Aid provides ways of giving to those who are on the street or in vulnerable or supported housing without an exchange of cash.  People give through terminals situated inside the window of a shop (look out for one appearing at Dalton Square Pharmacy when we can get out and about again).  These take a flat £3 donation via your phone.  (Or else you can give via an online Total giving page.)

No money is given out.  Instead the person needing help fills in a simple online form with the aid of an agency they work with and applies for a grant up to £750 which can be used in various ways, on furniture or household equipment, courses, clothing, support for an interview, any useful item.  By using a grant rather than cash, the agency helps the applicant get best value.  The grants will be administered via a very small group supported by CVS.  Cambridge Street Aid, who already have the scheme, say they have only ever refused one of several hundred applications.

Caroline says: “We hope this will reduce street giving and street begging but will also mean homeless and ex-homeless people are supported in creative ways that make a genuine change. The fantastic work being undertaken by the Council and its partners to support and house rough sleepers has been tremendously successful.  We are in a better position now than ever of ending homelessness for good. There will always be the danger though of former rough sleepers returning to the city centre to socialise or beg for money. Offering money and food also poses a risk of spreading the virus, especially with the arrival of a new strain which is spreading faster than previous ones.”

Due to various reasons the big launch of this scheme has been postponed and instead a low-key launch of the Total giving page has begun to start gaining some funds to distribute. 

Caroline says: “I am hoping you might be inspired both to put the link below out on your own social media to get some initial publicity and possibly even to donate yourself.

There is a post that can be shared from the Lancaster District Green Councillors page on Facebook.

Many others helped make this happen and thanks must go to the Street Aid team - Tony Johnson, Lindsay Brown, Yak Patel and CVS staff, Sharon Parkinson and Cath Gillin.

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